1 Corinthians 9:24-25, 1 Peter 5:8, 2 Samuel 12:13
Japan will host the 2020 Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo. There will be about 11,000 athletes or so that compete in those games but out of that big number, only about 1000 or so are going to win any sort of prize. So the reality is that if an athlete that even goes the Olympic Games if they want to win a medal they really have to be focused. They have to be self-controlled.
Self-controlled when it comes to their diet and exercise and training. The apostle Paul uses the illustration of a runner preparing for a race and compares it to a Christian and his need for self-control when it comes to his life especially as he looks forward to the prize of heaven.
1 Corinthians chapter 9 verse 24 and following it says this:
Do you not know that when runners compete in the stadium, they all run, but only one receives the prize? Run like that–to win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable victor’s wreath, but we do it for an imperishable one. (1 Corinthians 9:24-25)
Sin is certainly tempting, isn’t it? It’s tempting to lose self-control and to fall into sin. The apostle Peter also warns us
Be self-controlled and alert. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
This is no shallow warning for stronger Christians than you have fallen from the faith. Think of King David. Man after God’s own heart and yet he lost self-control as he fell into lust and then adultery then into murder. God didn’t give up on him even with that lack of self-control God sent his messenger, his prophet Nathan, to David to confront him concerning his sin. And David repented. Nathan declared to him that
The Lord has taken away your sin. You will not die. (2 Samuel 12:13)
God does the same for us even at moments when we have lost our self-control. God comes to us that we might repent of our sins and be forgiven, but he invites us to live a life of self-control. A life focused on a prize, not a prize that we win, but a prize that’s already been won for us in Christ. To stay focused on his word, to come regularly to receive his holy supper, that our sins might be forgiven. We might be assured that we are God’s own dear children, that the prize of heaven is ours. May God the Holy Spirit increase in us this fruit of the spirit of self-control. Amen.