24 Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. 25 And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. 26 Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. 27 But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
Two quick points regarding this scripture. Athletes train with a specific goal in mind. If you are going to be a gymnast, you don’t train to be a discus thrower. If you are going to play football, you don’t train by taking batting practice. However, there is common ground in some training. They avoid certain foods and activities. They take care of their bodies. They are “temperate” in all things. Believe it or not, you can overdue a good thing!
Back in the late 90’s and the early 00’s a young man was dominating his craft. His name, familiar to all, is Tiger Woods. Now, I’m not going to launch into the moral failings of Mr. Woods. However, let’s look at his athletic accomplishments. For years he was unbeatable. He then began to lift weights. He became muscular, biceps made for weightlifters, not golfers. Eventually his game began to falter. Sure there were many factors, but one of them was the increased bulk. While it was impressive looking and a good thing, for his craft it was a bad thing! Muscles tend to limit flexibility. Any golf coach/teacher will tell you how important it is to be flexible. The bigger the muscles, the less flexible. Too much of a good thing.
Well how does that apply to us as believers? I’m glad you asked. You won’t meet many people that enjoy a good time of worship more than I do. Simply put, I love to sing and spend time with the Lord. However, if I don’t add to worship the renewing of my mind through the reading the Word of God, well, I’m out of balance. Much like Tiger Woods, part of my game gets strong, while the other part languishes in weakness. You may say, oh I love reading the Word and Worshiping! What about praying? Be temperate in ALL THINGS. There must be balance in the Christian walk. I will never say that you can worship God to much or read the Bible to much or pray to much. However, if all we’re doing is sitting at the feet of the Lord lavishing worship on Him, when do we listen to Him? If all we ever do is read and study scripture, when do we share with others about His love? I think I’m being clear enough. To walk according to scripture, to walk pleasing to the Lord, we must be well balanced in our devotion to Him.
The second point is found in verse 26: When I run, I run this way, with certainty. If you aren’t well balanced, you can’t move with certainty. Perhaps some reading are runners, let me ask, do you run with a five gallon bucket of water in one hand? No? Why? Clearly, it throws the balance off! If you’re going to run, you want two five gallon buckets, one for each hand. Well, if you’re going to run you probably don’t want any buckets, but you get the point! What does running with certainty look like? Well, let’s look at what running with uncertainty looks like first. Have you ever been sitting for a long time and had a foot to fall asleep? Surely we all have experienced this sensation. If you haven’t, stop reading, sit awkwardly with one foot pinned other you leg and wait until you lose feeling in one of your feet. Go ahead, we’ll wait……
Ok, how fun is that? After your foot fell asleep, did you immediately leap up and run back to the keyboard? Thinking back to a time when you experienced this, you took time to allow the blood flow back into your foot. You didn’t try to walk, let alone run, with a foot that was asleep. Why not? Well, you can seriously injure your foot or even your entire body if you go running with a sleeping foot. However, many Christians today try to “run the race” with a sleepy foot! The sleepy foot of prayer. The sleepy foot of worship. The sleepy foot of obedience. The sleepy foot of giving. The sleepy foot of Bible study. We get excited and attempt to run when we can’t do so with certainty! Running with certainty is developed as we FULLY develop in Christ! Look further into scripture for this complimentary thought:
14 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-17
Rooted and grounded, running with certainty, all of this is predicated on the fact that you are being filled with all the fullness of God! Fullness, not partial, not what we like or enjoy only, but the fulness of God! Wait a minute, shouldn’t every Christian like every thing that God instructs? Ideally yes, but years of ministry has taught me that not every Christian wants God to be Lord over every area of their lives. That’s for another blog though!
What I want to do today is to encourage you to run with certainty! Certain that you’ve heard from God. Certain that God has ordained your footsteps. Certain that no matter what comes, God is on your side. You see when we begin to run with certainty, we can then fight with authority!