Keeping in Shape

Everyone who competes in the
games goes into strict training.
       —1 Corinthians 9:25

Striding to the stake in the Stadium of Smyrna, Polycarp prayed, “O God, make me a true athlete of Jesus Christ, to suffer and to conquer.”

The New Testament compares the Christian to the athlete some 50 times. One translation presents today’s text this way: “Everyone who competes practices self-discipline in everything.”

Given a choice between an athlete of exceptional ability who is lazy and listless, and an athlete of moderate ability who sweats out a disciplined and demanding training regimen, a coach will take the latter every time.

Coach Jesus would probably do the same.

“Undisciplined athlete” is an oxymoron. “Undisciplined disciple” is too. Disciple and discipline come from the same root.

Be demanding of yourself—
lenient with everybody else.

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