October 22, 2007
Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 1 Corinthians 9:25
More than one person has told me, “My father taught me how to swim by taking me to the lake and throwing me in. He gave me a choice, either I had to sink or swim.”
That’s an education method that makes me cringe.
Just as I cringed when, last week, I read the ABC News story on how a father in China tied the hands and feet of his ten-year-old daughter and supervised as she swam for three hours in the Xiang River. In a telephone interview, dad related how his daughter had watched someone train that way on a television show and, inspired by what she had seen, insisted she be allowed to do the same.
This kind of story is becoming more common as the people of China, normally a little bit sports crazy, are being transformed into certifiable atheletaholics. How else can you explain the trek of an 8-year-old girl who managed, in fifty-five days, to run more that 2,200 miles from her island home in the province of Hainan to Beijing?
To the credit of the Chinese media, some commentators thought the girl’s run might have been pushing the limits of what a child ought to do.
While none, or very few, of the people listening to or reading our devotion would want, encourage or push their children to such physical extremes, we certainly all understand the need for an athlete to be disciplined in every aspect of his life. Forget the scandals and steroids; we know if any competitor is going to win a prize he must be self-controlled in all things. He must practice, and he must prepare; he must do that which is necessary for him to grow stronger, faster, better.
That, according to Holy Spirit-inspired St. Paul, is also true when it comes to our spiritual race. As Christians, we always rely on the Savior whose sacrifice has won the ultimate and final victory over sin, death, and devil. Even so, the Lord wants His people to be faithful in their following as they live their lives in the grace of God. By the Holy Spirit’s leading and direction we need to grow stronger, so we might be able to fight the fight, run the race, and not drop out of the competition.
That’s what Christians do, because, after Judgment Day there is a blood-bought wreath of victory going to be given to all who are faithful unto death.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, I give thanks that You never faltered or failed in the work You did to save me. Now, by Your grace, may I also be faithful in following You. Keep me strong, safe, saved in body, mind, and soul. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries