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. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
Resource: The Hole in Our Holiness by Kevin DeYoung
Legalism is one of those words that Christians love to throw around.
Sadly, it often comes up when someone feels they are being called to a level of self-discipline that they find extremely inconvenient or uncomfortable. However, legalism is not putting strict discipline on our lives. Legalism is about motive and belief. Are you motivated by a belief that your actions will earn your place in heaven?
In other words, there is no amount of effort that is too much, as long your self-discipline is motivated by love for Christ, gratitude, or other Biblical motivations. The key is that you are not motivated by the belief that your actions justify you before a holy God.
Paul’s argument in this section of text is simply this: athletes regularly deny themselves certain pleasures so that they might achieve something they want even more. Small treats like sleeping in, and eating poorly will not do it for them. How much more should we balk at such a bad trade? Our reward is so much greater than any athlete, so we should be willing to deny ourselves far more!
We do not earn the ‘eternal wreath’ through our self-denial. However, our willingness to deny ourselves certain pleasures reveals something about the sincerity of our faith.
I pray that those who have been hardening their hearts to God’s call to deeper joy in Him through a more disciplined life, will finally put their flag in the ground and pursue the greatest goal a man could ever sacrifice for.
Father, please let the eyes of my heart see the glory I abandon when I make seemingly harmless and innocuous decisions to neglect the rhythm of life You have called me to, and may I run to You every time I find myself off course. Amen.
Is your outlook on others sometimes limited by preconceived beliefs? Perhaps it's time to Take Another Look
Choose something that you can fast from today. Coffee? Cheesecake? Maybe tonight you can unplug from all electronic devices and spend time with someone you have not seen for a while. Whatever you choose, contemplate on Jesus' experiences in Mark 1:12-13.
Comment below! What are you fasting from today?