“Like an athlete I punish my body, treating it roughly, training it to do what it should, not what it wants to. Otherwise I fear that after enlisting others for the race, I myself might be declared unfit and ordered to stand aside.”
1 Corinthians 9:27 (TLB)
Sometimes, as believers in Christ Jesus, we tend to ‘over-spiritualize’ the sequence of things in our lives that we neglect the realities of the things we can see with our eyes. A typical sense of it is in the use of our bodies. Yes, there is a sense in which we do not consider our bodies or our physicality, but the things that have happened to us in the spirit realm as revealed by the testimony of Scriptures. However, it is not Christian thinking to assume that our bodies are irrelevant in our walk with God. The scripture is full of instructions on how we should use our body and its parts in order to please God. Pleasing God does not only happen when we are born again, it also happens as we live our daily lives and use our bodies for His glory.
In 2 Corinthians 5 vs. 10, Paul said that we will be judged by Christ according to what we did with our earthly bodies, both good and bad. So, in the race of life and in the pursuit of God’s eternal plan for us, it matters what we do with our bodies.
The stand of Scriptures is that our body tend to have a mind of its own. It has its desires and what it wants to do. However, the believer who will win with God and will be a cast away must learn to bring his body under subjection. What does that mean? Paul talks about “what the body wants to do” and then “what the body ought to do”. This is the division we face in life’s journey. We have that which our bodies want to do, and that which it ought to do. The difference between two believers is in which one eventually wins the control over their actions. This is what we call discipline and it makes a whole world of difference between the overcomers and the cast aways.
Our body wants to merely sleep and eat and rest, whereas it needs to also pray and fast, read Bible, go to fellowship, and do some hard labours. Our boy wants to keep talking and talking, when at times it ought to be silent and merely listen or meditate, or simply say nothing. Our body wants to rest in the bosom of the opposite sex while still single, whereas it ought to be up and about becoming whole and holy instruments unto the Lord. Our body wants to hoard that which God has given us, while it actually ought to be liberal and give freely as led by the Spirit.
And many more. We face these contradictions each day, as long as life remains. Our bodies want to do one thing, when, by the light of God that we have, we know they ought to be doing something else. So, what do we do.
Paul says, “I punish my body”, I pummel it, I say no to it, I deny it its desires, for the sake of the Gospel, and for the sake of the race before me.
Brethren, what we do with our bodies matter, and will make or mar us. What will help us in disciplining our bodies is to keep the goal before us. Hebrews 12 vs. 2 says, looking unto Jesus. An earthly athlete puts himself under great bodily discipline, because he is envisaging the prize and the glory of winning. So also the heavenly athlete must keep the goal before himself- the glory of becoming like Jesus, and of seeing the Lord pleased with one’s life.
It may also be good we remember, that someone owns our bodies, and it matters to Him what we do with it (what we say, where we go, how we spend our time, what we watch on YouTube, what we wear, what we listen to, etc). May we, by His Grace be men and women of great, rugged and fruitful discipline. Amen.
PRAYERS: Lord, thank you for the precious gift of a body that you have given to me. Thank you for letting me know that you are very much interested in what I do with it. I receive the Grace to discipline my body in order to do with it only that which pleases you. Lord, when temptations come to me in the use of my body, I receive the Grace to overcome and to say no to the tempter. You have purchased my body will your blood, and because it s your own, I will take care of it and do only what will glorify and honour you. And Lord, because it is your property, I receive healing for any ailing part of my body. By His stripes I am made whole. Amen.
For further reading: Matthew 5 vs. 27-30; Romans 6 vs. 12-14; 8 vs. 10-13; 12 vs. 1-2; 1 Corinthians 6 vs. 15-20; Hebrews 10 vs. 5-8