Freedom and Discipline {1 Corinthians 9}

12:30 AM

As Christians we already look and act differently than non-Christians.  Two people on their Christian journey, look and act differently.  Paul is teaching these Corinthians and us too, that although we have a right to do whatever we want, we need to, as the old saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”, but that does not mean that we sin to be accepted.  When your focus is on living for Christ, your rights become comparatively unimportant.

Preaching the gospel was Paul’s calling.  That may not be your calling or my calling.  Perhaps yours is hospitality or feeding the hungry, or sharing your musical talent.  We need to use our gifts to glorify God.

The Christian life involves both freedom and discipline.  The goal in Paul’s life was to glorify God and bring people to Christ.  So Paul was free from any philosophical position or material entanglements that might side track him, while he strictly disciplined himself to carry out his goal.  For Paul, both freedom and discipline were important to be used in God’s service.

Paul gave several important principles for ministry:

1)  find common ground with those you contact. 
2)  avoid a know-it-all attitude
3)  make others feel accepted
4)  be sensitive to their needs and concerns
5)  look for opportunities to tell them about Christ. 

Winning the race requires purpose and discipline.  Paul uses this illustration to explain that the Christian life takes hard work.  And if you are like me, you have discovered that the further into your relationship with Christ, the harder life becomes.  We need to work on self-denial and be prepared, by reading and studying scripture daily.  As we spend more time doing this, we become more equipped to run the race with vigor and stamina.  We cannot merely observe from the grandstand, we need to train diligently because our spiritual progress depends on it.

Self-discipline requires an honest look at our strengths and weaknesses, with emphasis on our weaknesses.  It means building the will to say no when a powerful appetite inside us screams yes.  For example, when you have self-discipline, you can
  1. Say no to friends or situations that will lead you away from Christ
  2. Say no to casual sex, saving intimacy for marriage
  3. Say no to laziness in favor of “can do” and “will do”.

Self-discipline is a long steady course in learning attitudes that do not come naturally, and channeling natural appetites toward God’s purposes.

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Lord, I want to thank you for showing me my own weaknesses recently.  I want to thank you for showing me how to regain strength with You.  You Lord are my sole-source of strength.  You keep me on the straight and narrow path.  You have shown me that sin will never satisfy me or bring me peace.  You have shown me that this world will only laugh in my face.  When I give You my sins, You bring me joy.  It’s an amazing freedom that I pray everyone will enjoy!

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