“But I discipline my body and keep it under control,
lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”
I Corinthians 9:27
When a person is made a new creation in Christ, God instills a desire to make a difference on His behalf. It’s a sense of purpose…commission…calling.
It’s what turned ordinary fishermen who had a tendency to be somewhat dense and fearful (don’t we all?) into bold, convincing preachers on fire for the Jesus with whom they had walked. They wanted to make a difference for Him.
Paul says no less than four times in I Corinthians 9:19-22 that his chief aim is to win as many people as possible to Christ, by whatever means possible. He wanted to make a difference for Him.
You and I want to make a difference for Him, don’t we? We want to make a difference in the lives of our children…our neighbors…our friends…our coworkers…our family members…pretty much everyone within our sphere of influence.
I’ve been considering this desire to have an impact on Christ’s kingdom. But the truth is, as critical as it is to ponder this topic, it’s also completely useless if…
after ministering to others, I myself am disqualified.
If disqualification is a possibility, don’t you think we should spend some time considering what causes it? And how to avoid it? Because otherwise, we just might be running in vain. If we’re disqualified, all our ministering is useless. We’ll find ourselves at the finish line with empty hands and slumping shoulders and a sickening pit in our stomachs.
In this passage from I Corinthians 9, Paul likens the Christian life to participation in athletic games. The word disqualified is referring to athletes who fail to meet the qualifications set forth, thus eliminating them from the race altogether.
And what is it that has the power to disqualify Paul from his soulwinning endeavor?
Our enemy, Satan? Heartbreaking trials? Obstacles? Cultural differences? Opposition from unbelievers?
No. It was simply himself.
His own desires…freedoms…passions given free rein would disqualify his testimony with others, completely eliminating him from contention as a winner of souls.
So how do we overcome this primary threat to our convincing testimony? We would do well to take a lesson from Paul, who disciplined his body and kept it under control.
That translation is extremely tame. The Greek words Paul used literally refer to beating the body, pummeling it to the point of bruising. And then making his body his slave.
Do you control your body? Or does your body control you?
Self-control is one of my biggest battles. But I’m learning that with my entire testimony at stake, it’s a battle worth fighting…and one I can’t afford to lose.