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The Home for Christian Writers! Matthew 6:33
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The year was 1988. A talented and determined group of young men from Carter High School in Dallas, Texas, fought their way to and won the state’s 5A football crown, beating the team from Converse Judson 31 – 14. But if you check the records, you will find that Converse won the game 1 – 0. The reason for this anomaly is Carter used an ineligible player. The governing body stripped them of the title and awarded it to Converse Judson. Carter had a great team but because they did not follow the rules, they were disqualified.
The same holds true in the Christian arena. If you don’t follow the rules, you can be disqualified. Understand I’m not referring to loss of salvation. Our salvation is based on the work of Jesus on the cross and is permanent. What I’m getting at is loss of reward. You don’t want to lose your eternal rewards because of rule breaking. In the Greek the word for disqualified is adokimos, and its definition is the intent to give disapproval to. It is the opposite of the word “test or try” Paul used in 1 Corinthians 3:13. You don’t want to be disqualified. In 1 Corinthians 9:24 – 27, Paul uses an illustration of the Isthmian Games to drive home this point. To avoid the pitfall of disqualification, you need to adhere to what I call the three C’s: compete, control, and condition.
To avoid disqualification, you need to be involved in the Christian journey (“the race”). In other words, you need to compete. In verse 24, Paul alludes to races run by skilled runners. Notice runners and not runner. There has never been, nor will there ever be such a thing as only one believer taking growth seriously. All believers need to be about growing (2 Peter 1:3 – 8). This is evidence by the fact that not all win in a race. To win, you must take the regimen to prepare for the race seriously. What things can prevent you from winning? Division and quarrels (1 Corinthians 1:10,11), fleshly living (3:1 – 3), immorality (5:1,2), infighting (6:1 – 6), and misuse of Christian liberty (8:1 – 13) can inhibit your ability to win. Follow the rules of the Scripture “…that you may win.”
There is an essential to competing correctly. That is you must exercise self-control as proven by 1 Corinthians 9:25. The Greek suggests this is a strong mastery or dominion over that that will cause you be disqualified. The church at Corinth was one of the most gifted churches in the New Testament, yet they fell victim to the perils listed earlier. Many even spent Saturday night wasting a dime or two at the Temple of Artemis just to turn around and drop a few coins in the plate on Sunday morning (sounds a lot like today). Image the type of witnesses for Christ they could have been in that pagan society if they had exercised the type of self-control Paul admonished them to. Are you exercising self-control? The remainder of the verse teaches you do so not for a head wreath that will burn away, but to receive something eternal, where not even moths, rust, dust or thieves can tamper with (Matthew 6:19, 20).
Here is the key that puts it all together. Per 1 Corinthians 9:26, 27, you need to be conditioned. You need to train with aim. You need to practice running the race straight, i.e., in your lane. You need to rehearse as if you are doing the real thing. You even need to make your flesh your servant. Unfortunately, many have become slaves to their flesh. Let me use myself as an example. I’ve literally hit myself on the head for looking too long or thinking the wrong thing. I’ve slapped myself on the hand for grabbing for that extra piece of pizza. Not because I enjoy it. Trust me, I don’t. But I want to remind myself that I need to be conditioned, too. I don’t wont to be disqualified. You don’t want to be disqualified. Let’s run this race to win!
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