1 Corinthians 6: 19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;
An athlete without discipline will fail. Some can achieve impressive short-term results based on talent and genes, but in the long run all athletes without discipline will flounder. Some may fail in their personal life because of moral lapses, and others may fail because they are unable to discipline their bodies. Some cannot stick to a diet which properly fuels their bodies and keeps it lean. Others can’t discipline themselves to show up each day for training and push the pain threshold. Some athletes want it all, both an active social life (staying out until all hours) and success in sports; but without the discipline of getting proper rest and sleep, their bodies will shut down. Some cannot discipline themselves to avoid the temptation of drugs or excessive alcohol. I read an article recently “Discipline is Freedom: 3 Ways Athletes Can Become More Consistent” and in it a retired U.S. Navy SEAL said: “Discipline equals freedom”. It seems counter-intuitive, but there is freedom in discipline. He argues that disciplined athletes and individuals “don’t let the natural ebbs and flows of emotion or motivation we all experience rattle their routine”.
In today’s scripture the Apostle Paul is writing to the Church in Corinth. Corinth, because of its location, became a wealthy city as goods were transported between the Mediterranean and Aegen Seas, thus becoming a transit point for trade between Europe and Asia. Corinth was also known as a city of promiscuity where the worship of the Greek love goddess Aphrodite led to many a citizen and ship captain squandering all their money on the sex trade and on other pleasures. It was in this environment that the church in Corinth was formed. While the people of Corinth were saved when they accepted Christ into their hearts, they had to learn that in Christ they were “a new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17), and they needed to “continue to work out [their] salvation” (Philippians 2:12) by dying to the natural, sinful self.
Through discipline, we need to exhibit in our body the life of Jesus. Sounding much like an athlete, Paul wrote: 24 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. 25 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. 26 Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. 27 No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:27)
Paul made the Corinthian believers aware that their bodies are a temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and we have a responsibility to rule over this temple, including our thoughts, desires and actions. Oswald Chambers said that we have that responsibility of self-control, yet “most of us are much more severe in our judgment of others than we are in judging ourselves. We make excuses for things in ourselves, while we condemn things in the lives of others simply because we are not naturally inclined to do them.”
As an athlete you may have disciplined your body for sports, but as a follower of Jesus have you applied that same principle of discipline? Have you presented your body “as a living sacrifice holy and pleasing to God” (Romans 12:1)? When you do, you will see that there is freedom in such discipline.