Daily posts to help you connect with God
and keep yourself travelling in the right orbit
ORBIT | WEEK ELEVEN
ORBIT – DAY FIFTY THREE
Hello and welcome to another Orbit, the weekday devotional from the youth team at St Mary’s Reigate. If you’re just joining us for the first time, Orbit is a daily Bible reading, with some thoughts to help you put it into practice in your life. We hope this is useful – if you like it, please do spread the word!
BIBLE READING – 1 Corinthians 9: 24-27
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
Here is a fun question: how is your self discipline? How in control of yourself, your thoughts, and your actions do you feel? Do you wake up each morning with a clear idea of what you want to do, and then go on to achieve it all? Or are you constantly frustrated by your inability to live up to your own expectations?
Living in a high achieving town like Reigate, it’s easy to feel like we are surrounded by people in the first group that I described. Go-getters who have conquered every area of life almost effortlessly, and now subject themselves to military training in the park for fun… They are disciplined and impressive in every way. Meanwhile I can’t be the only person who feels more comfortable in the second category: wanting so much to be self disciplined, but constantly falling when I feel too tired, too emotional, or too compelled to eat a doughnut.
Self-discipline is hard. There is no other way to say it. If it wasn’t difficult to control ourselves, then many of the world’s problems wouldn’t exist. So many of the things with which we struggle as human beings can be traced back to an individual or corporate challenge of self control. Paul knows this, and that’s why he is encouraging the church in Corinth -to whom this letter was written- to focus on self discipline.
Paul uses the metaphor of a race – or really, of training for one. If you are committed to doing well in a race, then you have to train properly, and Paul likens this to the Christian life. As we discussed yesterday on Orbit, the way in which we live our lives really matters, yet we don’t change our lifestyle because of shame or fear of punishment, but as a response to the grace that we have received from God. A self-disciplined lifestyle, which seeks to live God’s way, even when temptation tells us otherwise, is that response.
So, how do we become more self controlled and self disciplined? I think there are two parts to the answer. First, we create our own version of strict training, as Paul puts it. We create structures in our day and our week, and we make commitments to practice self discipline regularly. This might mean taking regular physical exercise in order to stay healthy; it might mean spending time every day in prayer, silence or reading God’s word in order to keep our focus on God. Hey, it might even mean making a commitment to listen to Orbit every day!
We put rules and practices into the every day, and that becomes a training program for the Christian journey. However, when we try to do things on our own steam, we inevitably run into problems. So the second component of achieving self discipline is inviting God’s Spirit to partner with us: to become our running mate as we seek to train ourselves. With God’s help, our attempts at self control are much more likely to succeed.
We do all this, because as Paul says, there is a prize at the end of the race. Not just eternal life-although that is part of it-but the opportunity to know and enjoy a relationship with the God of perfect love. Super-achievers throw themselves into self-discipline because they know it increases their chance of success. As Christians we do the same thing, and our prize is way greater.
You might want to join me in praying this prayer.
Holy spirit, I pray that you would help me to achieve greater self control. Help me when I am weak, and lead me away from temptation whenever it finds me. I pray that you would help me every day to focus on the goal of living for you, and knowing you better. Amen
There’s now a chance for you to pray, or listen to God, or simply be still for a few moments.
Each day we will provide you with a simple challenge; something to do which helps you put this little thought into action. Here’s today’s challenge:
Today we want to challenge you to create a really simple version of an ancient monastic tool called a Rule of Life. All that really means is a list of simple rules by which you have decided to live your everyday life. So: choose three things which you are going to try to do every day for the next week. One should be about your relationship with God (e.g. some time listening to worship music each day), one should be how you relate to other people, and another should be about how you spend your free time. Write them down, and tick them off each day; at the end of the week, see whether you want to keep going.
If you want to get in touch, you can always email firstname.lastname@example.org, or message us on Instagram – we’re @stmarys_satellites. Let us know what you think of this daily reflection – please – we’d love your feedback.
We’ll be back with another edition of Orbit tomorrow. Thanks for taking part today!