“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” (1 Cor. 9:27)
When It comes to the Christian life we must think deeply about our commitment to holiness and a pursuit of Christ and the gospel in all we do. What Paul writes to the Corinthians is no less true today. He is addressing a church in distress and full of heresy and conflict. Brothers and sisters in Christ are living in open sin while others are being shunned and pushed aside because of their social status. This is at its core a church divided, a church who has become more concerned with their personal rights and desires than the gospel. They lost holiness and self-control. The lost sight of preaching the truth and living it out in a world that was dying.
When we look at the world today we continue to see a lack of self-control, humility, grace towards many in our churches, and especially towards those outside. So, today’s post is more of a reflection and a look inward. Paul while writing to this divided church took a moment to look at his own heart to instruct. He points out that the Christian life is hard, that it requires a life of commitment towards God and the desire to love and serve the family of God in humility, and reach out as a servant. Earlier in this very chapter of 1 Corinthians Paul reflected on what it meant to lay down his rights for the gospel, because the gospel was paramount. His aim was to bring glory to God and to do so he lived a life pursuant to the gospel command and the model set before him in Christ.
During this tumultuous time, we as believers need to reflect on how we are presenting the gospel to the world around us, whether or not we’re seeking to become all things to all people for the sake for the gospel, and whether our desire to be right or more important. I’ll confess even this past week I got into a minor disagreement and allowed my need to be right to surpass my need to be Christ, and the spirit convicted me of that fact and brought me back to this text and the point Paul wants us to see. We are gospel people first and foremost. We have been saved and set free from sin and death and given a new life. We have joy abundantly in him, that the world could take our life and we inherit a greater one.
However, there are those on the outside. They live under the wrath of God. They are stuck in sin, whether it brings them happiness or pain it’s destination is the same. They live in pursuit of that which is not God. They may even ‘drink smoke and chew and go with girls who do’ to quote an old pastor of mine. The point is they need the gospel and the truth it brings, and we need to discipline our bodies and run the race set before us to reach them. Our personal holiness is an evangelistic holiness. We are called to them. We are called to lay down the things that are not the gospel to reach them with it.
Part of what we do is grow in holiness for the sake for the cross. Paul points to the hope we have in Christ as the motivation for running the race. So, when we speak online or in person are we more concerned with their desire to see Christ in us and through us or us being right and seen as such? Anyone who knows me knows I like being right, but at the same time I know and am being reminded by the truth of the gospel and that being right for the sake of being right is not worth the loss of my gospel witness.
It is not worth running the race in vain.
So will you join me in running the race with grace and holiness, seeking to become all things to all people for the sake of the Gospel? That we may be witness’ to a dying world? That through the work of Christ we may see lives changed by the power of the Gospel which is the only true salvation in this life?