That question is a sobering one to ask, as I begin to pen these words. In an often times chaotic world, where so many things seek to grab our attention, we fight against becoming distracted. One person writes, “If destruction fails to entangle us, distraction will do it’s best.” Still another writes, “Distraction serves evil more than any other mental state.” The word distraction simply means a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else. It is this subject I wish to share some thoughts about today.
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.
1st Corinthians 9:24
These words would catch the attention of the church in Corinth, for they would have been part of the Graeco-Roman world and aware of the strict training that the athletes would commit to. His exhortation is simple, run the very best you can so as to win the prize! He goes on to explain further how one can run such a race. First, the athlete “who competes for the prize is temperate in all things” (v25). The word temperate means to be self-controlled. There is no doubt that self-control is needed in our Christian walk. The need to say NO is ever before us. Thankfully, we can take comfort in knowing that self-control is an aspect of the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) working in our lives. Listen to these reassuring words, “The Spirit God gave us does not make us afraid. He is our source of power and love and self-control” (ETRV, 2nd Timothy 1:7). Self-control is not about what I do; but rather, what I enable God to do through me. Second, staying with the athletic metaphor, Paul speaks of an “imperishable crown” (v25). Here, he points to a goal, a purpose behind the Christian’s efforts to live a self-controlled life. Listen to how the ETRV translates 1st Corinthians 9:26, “So I run like a person that has a goal.” Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Christianity has always been intentional!
But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have
preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
1st Corinthians 9:27
The countless things Paul had to deal with in order to proclaim Christ could have become distractions, drawing his attention away from the goal, which is Christ Jesus. Aware of these truths, he disciplined himself so as to not be disqualified. Paul wanted to do his very best in preaching the gospel and being Christ-like to those he encountered, encouraging the church in Corinth to do the same. The question is, “Are you being distracted?”