In my preparation for this weeks study, I’ll have to admit that I am disappointed in myself. Last week, we talked a little bit about “taking stock” of our lives, and as I’m studying I have to face the hard truth that I am really out of shape physically. Spiritually, I’m in a pretty good place, but physically not so much. How did I get here? How did I allow myself to get to this point? This has been on my mind for a while, but this week’s study really hit me hard. It’s easy to use excuses: I’m old, I can’t go to the gym because of COVID, I don’t have time, I’m going to be sore, and on and on.
We talked about discipline last week, “choosing what we want most over what we want now.” I have to be honest. Right now, I want a double cheeseburger from the Burger Basket with fries, onion rings, and a sweet tea. I really don’t want to think about working out and getting back in shape, but I know if I don’t my health and well being are going to suffer. So, I have to start “choosing what I want most over what I want right now”. The last few weeks I have started moving in that direction. I’m almost cringing as I type this because I know what’s ahead. It’s going to be a long road back, so pray for me!
I know it’s going to take discipline and a commitment to training. Trying is great. I can try to do better, but trying is just “an attempt at doing something.” Training is a commitment. There are lot of things that I try to do, but I’m not always committed to “seeing it through” to completion. Sometimes my attempts are halfhearted. My present physical condition is not for a lack of trying, but the result of my lack of commitment to being in shape. This of course applies to anything and everything in our lives physically, spiritually, and emotionally.
Our scripture passage this week is from 2 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. 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. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 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.” 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV
I feel like Paul was an athlete of sorts because he uses examples of athletics and physical training in several of his letters. This passage in 2 Corinthians has a significant connection and application to the audience in whom it is addressed. Corinth is a major city in Greece. As we all know, Greece is where the Olympic games began. Corinth, and probably most other Greek cities had their own smaller version of the Olympics. Corinth’s version that was held every two years instead of four was called the Isthmian Games. The Isthmian Games even included a poetry reading competition, so it wasn’t just for the jocks.
As an ex-athlete, I can relate. I still dabble, but I am no longer in “competition”. I know what it is like to go into “strict training”. When Paul says, “I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave”, I understand what it means to discipline myself, to make my body do what I want it to do. Also, I trained with purpose. I did not fun aimlessly or fight like a boxer beating the air.
“For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” 1 Timothy 4:8 NIV
No one questions the benefits of physical training, and we see that Paul agrees in this verse, but “godliness has value for all things.” Godliness has “greater value” and a “greater reward”. Our godliness, faith, or commitment to following Christ permeates through our whole being. It affects how and why we do what we do. Yes, you can become a great athlete without being a Christian or believing in God, but the discipline and commitment that is required to follow Jesus carries over into all aspects of our lives.
If you have been through confirmation or a membership class in the Methodist church, you have studied about “spiritual disciplines”. Spiritual disciplines are exercises or work outs for our spirit. It’s how we train spiritually. Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 that scripture, the Bible, or the word of God is “useful for training in righteousness”. It is so effective that the one who uses it will be “thoroughly or completely equipped for every good work”. In other words, it is really important and highly effective.
When that day comes and we appear before the Lord, we all want to hear Him say, “well done my good and faithful servant”. This saying comes from the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25:14-30. This parable is part of one of Jesus teaching session with His disciples on the Mount of Olives. The parable is about a master/landowner who is going on a journey, and leaves his servants in charge of his property, wealth, and business. They aren’t expected to just sit around and wait for their masters return. They are expected to “carry on with business”, and make a profit while he’s gone. Two servants make investments and turn a profit. They are commended and rewarded by the master.
‘Well done good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’ Matthew 25:21 (NIV)
The third servant doesn’t fair as well. (Read Matthew 25:24-30 to find out what happens to him.) The faithful servants were disciplined and committed to carrying out the master’s wishes. In order for us to receive our “Greater Reward” or share in our Masters happiness, we are called to go into “strict training”. I hope that you have great week of training!
Key Bible Passages for the week: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27; 1 Timothy 4:8; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Matthew 25:14-30.
- What’s your go-to way of exercising? Walking, biking, swimming, or something else?
- Think about a goal you successfully met in the past. Did you try for that goal, or train for it? What was your experience like?
- Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27. How would training for your goals, instead of just trying, change the way you pursue them?
- We win when we become more of who God created us to be. Who do you think God created you to be?
- Is there a goal you’ve been trying to meet, without success?
- Why is it so easy to fall back into unhealthy patterns and habits?
- How could you train in order to reach your goal?
Start the Greater Reward Bible Plan using Plans With Friends: www.go2.lc/reward
Join us on ZOOM for Weekly Adult Bible Study on Wednesday’s @ 1pm.
Here is your Zoom invitation for Wednesday, March 4th @ 1pm. Click the link to join meeting on mobile device or computer.
Meeting ID: 744 6110 3718
Director of Family Ministry and Facility Management