October 1, 2011 by Chris French
Michael Phelps became a household name in 2008 when he won eight gold medals for swimming at the Olympics in Beijing. Lance Armstrong has won the Tour De France an unprecedented seven times. Three different men from 1961 to 1994 were able to win the Tour De France five times, but no one has achieved Armstrong’s phenomenal record. Before Michael Phelps a Russian gymnast named Larissa Latynina won nine gold medals. Fifty years later Phelps walks away with a staggering fourteen! Do you think these men just showed up at the starting line one day not knowing they would compete that day? Absolutely not! They had to condition their bodies to accomplish these great records. They ate a regimented diet, they worked out daily for hours on end, they even slept right. It takes a lot of training to get your body to do the things they make their bodies do. Paul actually used athletes of this caliber to describe how we need to train our “inward man”.
“Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” – I Cor. 9.24-27. Did you notice how the Olympic athlete trains his body and how the Christian should train his mind? Paul said it was self-control. The athlete can’t eat everything he wants, he can’t sit around and relax. He has to be in the gym. The Christian can’t just take in everything he wants to. Some things that we enjoy are bad for us. They make it harder to compete. An Olympic athlete wouldn’t keep a box of Snickers around him all the time. He knows that will hurt the way he competes. We need to find the things that hurt the way we compete for our “imperishable crown” and get those hurdles out of our way.
Self-Control is one of the Fruits of the Spirit found in Galatians 5.22-24. Have you given God control over your life or is Satan driving your ship? Mastering our desires is an ongoing process, but our self-control is a sign that the Holy Spirit lives inside of us. Are you building Him a palace or a shack?