Ah, I don’t feel like it today. I think I’ll laze around and do not much of anything. I can’t be bothered. You may call me a slacker but really, I find it takes too much effort. It’s easier just to chill and do your own thing. Maybe I give-in to myself too much.”
Achievements and success rarely fall into your lap. When they do, they’re often undervalued and wasted. Easy come – easy go. Spiritual achievements are no different – they don’t just fall into your lap either. Successful Christians work hard and sweat it out at being a good Christian.
Does that shock you? Have you assumed that if you want to live a thriving life for Christ, it will be a breeze – or a stroll in the park? Nothing could be further from the truth.
If you want to be a successful CEO of a corporation you will arrive at work long before others and you will return home later than others. If you want to be a successful Olympian you will put everything else in your life on hold to win the race – even if it means sacrificing your education, career, friendships, leisure, etc.
So, you’re not enjoying your Christian life as much as you thought you would? How much are you putting into it?
Read this one snippet out of the Apostle Paul’s letter to the believers in Corinth. He gave us a peek into how he ordered his own Christian life, behind the scenes, in private, so he could serve God publicly with power.
Do you remember how, on a racing-track, every competitor runs, but only one wins the prize? Well, you ought to run with your minds fixed on winning the prize!
Every competitor in athletic events goes into serious training.
Athletes will take tremendous pains – for a fading crown of leaves.
But our contest is for an eternal crown that will never fade.
I run the race then with determination. I am no shadow-boxer, I really fight!
I am my body’s sternest master,
for fear that when I have preached to others I should myself be disqualified.
1Corinthians 9:24-27 J.B.Phillip’s Paraphrase
Living a disciplined life requires stern rigour to overpower the natural laziness and the fleshly desire to please our little old selves. Can you almost see Paul clenching his teeth with determination as he starts a new day? “No, I will not give into myself. This is not about me. This is about the Lord.” When he had the natural impulse to lash out at his opponents – he swung his fist inward to say ‘No!’ to himself. When he wanted to please himself, and indulge in lustful thinking – again he sternly said: “Absolutely not!”
Paul knew how to slam the door shut on his fleshly desires and impulses. Did it take effort and self-discipline? You know the answer.
Are you living a disciplined life? How much spiritual structure do you have in your life? If you are living a sloppy Christian life and you are not happy in the Lord, you must deliberately bring into your life some structure and discipline. You need to develop daily routines. Get alone and purpose in your heart, before God, what spiritual routines you will engage in every day – rain or shine.
Formalize in writing what changes you want to make in your spiritual life: your devotional life in private with your Bible and prayer; your life of fellowship with other believers and your friends; your commitment to service and your responsibilities in the local assembly of believers; your work and leisure time; and your family. Write all of it down. Keep this list in your Bible and go over it regularly on your knees in prayer and ask for the Lord’s help.
It’s called getting your act together as a Christian. Maybe it is not called Self – Mastery; maybe it is called Spirit – Mastery. A total surrender to Christ. A full yielding to the indwelling Spirit of God.
Walk carefully and closely with the Lord today.
Warmly in Christ,