We can’t stop until we reach the finish line. Striving for the mastery is a goal to set. It’s not that we don’t have a goal; we do. Focus on it and determine to finish well.
I Corinthians 9:25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
Beginning in verse 19 we find much information about living for the Lord. The Olympic games so popular in our day were popular in Paul’s day too. Athletes came together for tough competition. When we see an athlete we see a person who didn’t wait until game time to get ready. We see results of countless days and nights of training. It was put above their personal lives for years. A medal not only shows an athlete wins but showcases the efforts in training.
Self-discipline and self-denial are typical for athletes. Exercise is strange. Getting into it is the hardest part. Your body says “no, no, no.” We live in a generation of fanaticism for physical fitness. Spiritual well-being is discouraged. Making it right and living right is discouraged. It still pays off and is rewarding. If you exercise regularly and miss a day, you feel bad; you miss it. The more out of shape we are, the harder it is to get into shape. It’s good to exercise. For our sakes, others, the nation, and the world, spiritual exercise is essential. Here is the lack. There is a famine of the connection with the Word. There is a famine of desiring and seeking after God. The Shepherd hasn’t quit shepherding and seeking sheep. He exercises himself, but we must do our part and strive for the mastery.
Paul saw how trained the athletes were. The first thing required was self-denial. The same holds true spiritually. To be a Christian we must be on the move. We’re not competing with each other or the church down the road. What we are running for is to please the Lord and receive the smile of God on our lives. We want to reach the finish line and hear the words well done. To do so we must continue faithfully. The devil is after us. If we slow down, we’ll fall behind or possibly get out of the race. We lose when that happens. We can be winners or losers. Jesus endured the cross despising the shame. He went all the way for us. The least we can do is strive for that mastery. Not a one of us can say we don’t have to work at it. We can’t say the Lord will carry us along regardless of what we do. Jesus opened up the way and will help us along. It’s up to us to accept the responsibility for our own soul. We must run in God’s direction. We have to follow Jesus to make it to where he is. In order to strive for the trophy and make the finish line we must first have mastery of ourselves.
Self is put to the forefront today. That’s old human thinking to get people to not think about their soul. The devil wants us to be absorbed with self and put off our relationship with the Lord. The rich man told his soul he had plenty laid up for years and didn’t have to worry. What we give so much of our lives to is temporal. We can run for ourselves or run for Jesus Christ. We’ll find life at the end and all along the way if we run for the Lord.
Athletes have a passion for their sport. They enjoy it along the way. The Lord wants us to enjoy ourselves as Christians. He doesn’t deny us the taste of heaven till we get there. It will be worth it after a while but it is good now. The best you’ll ever feel is when Jesus is in charge of your life. There is so much involved in celebrating self. We need to be proud to be a Christian. If we have to wear a t-shirt for others to know we’re saved, something is wrong. People should be able to see it.
It takes exertion, but we enjoy the good race of being involved in Christianity. Don’t be a couch potato Christian. Don’t blend in and flow along. You can’t sprint from service to service. You have to run it one step at a time, one day at a time. The first thing to be mastered is self. It wants to run the opposite direction it should. It wants to be a spectator instead of part of the race. We all have to run together. We need each other. Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, is with us each day leading the way. He’ll show us how to win and beat the devil, carnality, and overcome the world. In order to master self, we must place ourselves under the leadership of the Master. By his grace and strength, there is help. With God all things are possible.
The hands of those inspired to write the Bible were shackled, blistered, hurt and worn. You can see suffering in it. If they had the strength, we can have it too. Paul told Timothy the time of his departure was at hand. He said I have fought a good fight. I have kept the faith. I have finished the course. I’m sure he proudly walked to the chopping block. He was probably physically weak but spiritually he was glad to take those steps. The last segment is always the hardest. It’s a shame to fall out so near the end. We must bring ourselves under subjection. Tone up the spiritual muscles. When we get out of shape we know what to do. All the therapy in the world won’t help unless we do it on our own. We need to occupy until he comes. We have a responsibility. We have to run. Other verses say I therefore so run and so run, that ye may obtain.
Jesus laid it out. He’s ahead of us. I have to run to obtain. It takes keeping my body under subjection. I have to take hold of the flesh and my old nature and put them under subjection. Keep the soul above. Be temperate. Do it by the help of the Lord. Walk after the Spirit and not the flesh.
Are you ready to sock it to yourself? We have the power through the Spirit to give the old man a KO. We’re not beating the air. Let’s strive for the mastery. It’s either the old you or the new you. Let’s strive for the mastery that we live for Christ in order to obtain the crown and the mastery.