THE KEY TO VICTORY IS TO "PUMMEL YOUR BODY"!
(AKA: Self Discipline; Self Control)
Are you on pace to win the race? Are you going to take first place?
Second place? Third? Last?
Are you running in such a way as to win the prize?
Or, like so many people, are you running aimlessly in life? Are you wildly throwing punches at your opposition that are easily dodged? Are your upper-cuts ineffective whiffs... an energy wasting swing and a miss??
While your expensive entry fee into the race (salvation) is a free gift offered from God through faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross, the outcome of the race - how you compete, enjoy, and ultimately finish - is completely up to YOU!
That's not pride. That's God's design from the beginning to the end of the Bible. HE puts the emphasis squarely on YOU. In fact, He eventually judges YOU based on YOUR DECISIONS. We won't be able to point the finger at God at the end of the race and blame Him for our lifetime of choices.
Don't blame God if you're losing the race because you're not implementing the resources, tools, and strategies He has generously provided for your success.
Don't blame God if you let fear, pain, hurt, & disappointments keep you on the sidelines instead of getting out on the field.
Don't blame God if you spend your whole life chasing things that don't matter.
Don't blame God for shallow perspectives, cliches, and half truths that keep you stuck in life ("Whatever will be will be.", "Everything happens for a reason.", "If it's meant to be, it will be.") when He provides wisdom & truth that can set you free and usher in fullness of life.
Don't blame God for outcomes that He has delegated to you.
Don't blame God for messes that you made.
Don't blame God for things that you're reaping from what you've been sowing.
Too many Christians don't realize that so much of the victory that God makes available lies within our God given capacity to choose. To choose to pray. To choose to seek. To choose knock. To choose to ask. To choose to rely on the Holy Spirit. To choose to flee temptation. To choose to forgive. To choose to love. To choose to overcome. To choose to tear down idols. To choose to be thankful. To choose to eat unhealthy foods. To choose to work hard as unto the Lord. To choose to persevere. To choose to rest. To choose to learn. To choose to read. To choose to strive. To choose to workout. To choose to prioritize. To choose to stay stuck. To choose bad relationships. To choose bad influences as friends. To choose another 10 minutes in bed or to choose the discipline to get up. It's all a choice!
The very first gift God gave man was the freedom of choice... To pull from sources that bring life or sources that bring death.
God gave instructions, clarity, and discernment, but He delegated the actual freedom of choice to each person.
And He gave us a litmus test to distinguish good choices from bad choices - FRUIT. What does my decision produce? WHAT'S THE FRUIT? Decay? Withering? Confusion? Unnecessary suffering? Destruction? Premature Death? More fat? Less cardio endurance? More stress? Dehydration? STD's? Emptiness? Well then you may want to change your choices to bring about different results.
Good Godly choices bear life-giving, life-producing FRUIT. It's delicious! You get to eat of it and others do too.
That's part of the benefits of winning your race - FULLNESS OF LIFE!!
But, in order to win, you have to choose self control & self discipline. The literal Greek translation is that you have to PUMMEL YOUR BODY & MAKE IT YOUR SLAVE. God gives out race entries (salvation) for free, but He doesn't give out participation trophies. You've got to earn the gold medal. You get one lifetime to do it in. Discipline, discipline, discipline. It's not your enemy; it's one of your BEST FRIENDS!
The current catch phrase is, "adulting". You've got to grow up. Your parents may have let you down by trying to be your buddy instead of teaching you self control and self discipline, but that doesn't let you off the hook. There are many great ways to develop healthy life-producing self discipline. That's part of the fruit of the Spirit so God is already eager to develop it in you. You just need to lean into Him.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV)
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control*, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
*1 Corinthians 9:27 (literal Greek translation): I pummel my body and make it a slave
STRiVE to THRiVE!