The Attitude Of An Athlete (Part 2)

Posted: March 26, 2012 by Ricky Keeler in Sports Devotionals

This post features the second part of our Attitude Of An Athlete by our guest writer, George Ippolito from Life In Christ Ministries:

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. (1Cor 9:24-27)

In The Attitude of an Athlete Part 1 we started to consider Paul’s exhortation to the church of Corinth at the end of 1st Corinthians chapter nine. It is there that the Apostle exhorts the church to exhibit certain attitudes, or characteristics, that are typically found in the athlete.

The first characteristic we considered was that the athlete plays to win; today we’ll consider the attitude found in verse 25 where Paul writes, “everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown.”

The athlete must be temperate.

The word temperate means moderate, self-restrained, someone who is not indulgent. This is an expected characteristic of athlete in top physical condition. Those who participated in the Roman games would train for months leading up to their participation in the events. Part of their training would require that they not eat as much as they might have wanted, or go where they wanted to go, they had to be temperate. They had to get the proper amount of sleep, continue to physically prepare, and undergo sport specific training, even when they didn’t feel like it. They were, in essence, focused on a goal and all of the other things that would pull them away from that goal needed to be removed.

Do you see any parallels to the Christian life in that?

They were focused on a goal and they didn’t want anything to interrupt that pursuit. They would have to deny themselves from certain things, discipline themselves and keep in mind the goal to which they were running.

What was the prize?

A pine wreath placed on their head…

That’s why Paul writes, “Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown” (1 Corinthians 9:25).

On the other hand, the Christian’s reward is not temporary… it’s eternal, a crown… imperishable.

How do you get there?

Well, one of the key components is to make sure you’re temperate.

Remember, one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit is self-control, and to be temperate requires self-control.

This is an important Biblical topic.

  • Paul included it when speaking to Felix and his wife Druscilla concerning faith in Christ. The first time the word “self-control” is used in the New Testament is in Acts 24:25 during that dialogue. The Scripture says that Paul “reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come”. As for Felix’s response… “he was afraid and answered, ‘Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you’.”
  • It is a requirement for a pastor/overseer. 1 Timothy 3:2 says that “a pastor must be… temperate.”
  • The lack of this fruit characterizes the wickedness of the last days. In 2 Timothy 3:1-4 he says that perilous times will come in the last days and that men will be… “without self-control”…. and… “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God”.

How are you doing with being “temperate in all things”?

Is the fruit of self-control one that characterizes your life? Is it missing? Or, is it present in some areas, but seemingly not so much in others?

What areas of your life need greater self-control?

  • Do you need to exert greater self-control when it comes to how you use your time? Do you need to exert greater control over your enjoyment of entertainment? Video games? Internet?
  • Do you need to show greater self-control in your relationships? In what you say? With whom you spend time? How you act around, or with, the opposite sex?
  • Do you need to exert self-control over laziness? Prayerlessness? Inordinate busyness?
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