1 Cor. 9:25-27 – “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.” (NASB)
When you see a masterful performance in sport or in the arts, it can leave you in a state of awe. I am a big sports fan and I have been amazed at the highlights of people like Barry Sanders, Calvin Johnson, Tom Brady, Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Kobe Bryant. One of the blessings of modern technology is to get to see behind the scenes of these world class performers. When you pull the curtain back on their lives, you find a commonality between all these great performers and performances. While all of them have natural God-given traits and talents, they all also work extremely hard behind the scenes to be able to perform at such a high level in the spotlight. They make it look easy, but if it was not for a very disciplined routine outside of the game, they wouldn’t be able to perform well when the game time comes.
In the same way, the Apostle Paul reminds us that just as athletes need to discipline themselves to gain temporary rewards and glory; Christians need to discipline themselves for eternal glory. The Apostle Peter also urges us to live as citizens of heaven abstaining from fleshly lusts which wage war against our souls (1 Pet. 2:11). In another letter, the Apostle Paul tells us those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires (Gal. 5:24). James tells us we must resist the devil, submit to God, and the devil will flee (James 4:7).
As we entered 2020, we could have never predicted what was to come our way. If we prepare right, through means of grace like prayer and fasting, we can stand firm and still produce the character of Christ no matter what comes in 2021.
Heavenly Father, my Lord Jesus Christ, prepare my heart today to be faithful to you regardless of whatever trials may come. Help me to identify anything that is ruling over me and causing harm to my soul that I may bring it to you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.