WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO BE A CHAMPION IN A GIVEN SPORT
As a believer, we must have a champion mindset to compete the Christian life. The race that all Christians need to prepare themselves for is the calling of God. What does it take to be a champion in a given sport? For one, it is necessary to have a dedication to succeed no matter what the cost. A passion for the game is certainly essential, as is a single-minded determination to accomplish the task. A willingness to train incessantly is required. In addition, a burning desire for the trophy or prize awarded to the one who wins is an absolute must.
In (1 Corinthians 9:26, Paul illustrates the “champion” mindset required to faithfully complete the Christian life with this statement, “I run thus; not with uncertainty” and “Thus I fight; not as one who beats the air.” We understand from studying this verse that Paul was not an aimless competitor. He had a clearly defined goal. Like an athlete preparing for a race or a boxing match, Paul knew that he had to discipline his body; he had to force himself to maintain the strenuous, consistent practice needed for success.
The race that Paul prepared himself for, the race that all Christians need to prepare themselves for was the calling of God. Paul taught, that Christians are rewarded for the calling that God gives them.
One weekend I was watching the sports news and heard something I had never heard before. A sportscaster was covering a Las Vegas boxing match. He reported that the match was stopped because one of the fighters had quit fighting in the middle of a round and started crying. This burly brother just broke down in the middle of the fight. They later learned that the fighter was physically, mentally, and emotionally unprepared to fight. The promoter said he had tried several times to convince the fighter’s coach and trainers to cancel the bout because of concerns that the fighter had not completely recovered from a recent struggle with drug abuse. He told them that the man wasn’t in any shape to box, but his camp insisted the fight go on as planned. So they put him in the ring, and shortly thereafter, this out-of-shape athlete gave what he had. When that ran out, he quit. Moreover, he cried.
Obviously, he lost the fight. If he had won, it would have been a significant step in his career, putting him on track toward the championship. If his trainers had postponed the match, he might have won. But they didn’t, and he lost. He lost because he was out of shape.
Many of you are losing the fight. You are losing spiritual battle after spiritual battle, not because you don’t know Jesus, or because you doubt the promises of God, but because you’re not spiritually fit.
In 1 Timothy, Paul painted a picture of an athlete who trained his body for competition. He counseled Timothy, his rookie minister, to train and prepare himself for spiritual competition. Paul said to be an effective minister; a true servant of the Lord, Timothy needed to exercise himself on a spiritual level. Paul said, by comparison, that bodily or physical exercise is good, but its benefits are limited to the body, which is purposed to serve us only temporarily, only in this life.
However, spiritual fitness, or godliness, has lasting value. Its benefits carry the believer through this life and the life to come. As believers, we should prepare ourselves spiritually for the challenges and battles of our Christian walk. Paul urged us to get in shape and stay in shape.
THE OPTION OF TRAINING
The first thing we must realize is that, although we may be saved, training is not a requirement; it’s an option. In 1 Timothy 4:6, Paul used an interesting phrase to advise Timothy on how to minister to the people of God. He said if Timothy put the brethren “in remembrance of these things,” he would be a good minister. Paul was a veteran spiritual leader, speaking to a spiritual son. He told Timothy that as a leader and pastor of God’s people at Ephesus, there were several things he must do.
First, he was to keep the brethren in remembrances of godly behavior. Paul did not tell Timothy to order God’s people to be godly, but instead to bring the things they needed for godliness to their remembrance. The phrase put in remembrance means “to lay or spread before someone.” It does not suggest a forceful command, but an exhortation, counsel, or advice. It lies somewhere between a warning and a suggestion. Paul wanted Timothy to keep his flock reminded of what they were already supposed to be, to keep their goal before them, and to encourage them in their walk with Christ. If the focus and spotlight could be kept on what they knew about God, they would be motivated to godliness. Timothy was charged to persuade, rather than command.
Now let me close with this final thought for each one of you who have taken the time to read this entire lesson and the many lessons we teach here daily, “Think globally, and work locally. Looking beyond ourselves in the real and on line world, to reach out to others who might be in need, for we all are truly our Brothers Keeper, salvation is FREE for the asking.
If you have not experienced the life saving blood of Jesus Christ, stop and take a moment wherever you may be, and ask the Lord to come into your heart. Ask Him to forgive you of your sins, and if you have spoken these few simple words in truth, you are saved, and now have eternal life.
May God continue to bless each one of you? Today I minister to you from a position of peace, power, purpose and prosperity in Jesus name. I remain Pastor Davis/Master Teacher.