What is the secret sauce to be Olympic champions? What do they have to do? What do they have to become? How much more the Christian who runs in a far greater event of eternal consequence! What are some keys to be champions of God?
In Part 1, we unpacked some key principles based on 1 Peter 1:13.
1 Peter 1:13 (NIV84) Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.
We shared about the importance of our preparation to be a champion of God. In Part 2, we unpack more truths from the passage to be the champions God intended us to be.
BE SELF-CONTROLLED TO FINISH WELL (v13b) “…be self-controlled…”
The need for self-control.
To be prepared is good, but preparation alone is not enough. We also need self-control or discipline. Imagine the tennis match again. I may have made all my preparations but during the match, I must maintain my composure. I must maintain self-control. Otherwise, all my preparations are for nothing, if I panic, or get distracted.
Athletes exercise self-control by undergoing the rigours of training, strict diet, etc. All for temporal prizes. Yet they pursue it so seriously, with so much dedication and sacrifice. We are running a race of eternal consequences. We should be even more eager to discipline ourselves that we may finish well. Paul reminded Timothy.
1 Tim 4:7 (TLB) Spend your time and energy in the exercise of keeping spiritually fit.
Self-control helps us complete our race well. Self-control also helps us overcome many spiritual battles that we are confronted with.
2 Cor 10:5 (NIV) We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
Paul used military terms to describe the war waged for our minds and in our minds. To overcome, we must demolish the false arguments and pretensions. It requires discipline of our minds. We should realize that self-control is not so much for suppressing, but for harnessing. Self-control can help us harness our thoughts, our energies for excellent things. Just like a laser multiplies its energy because it focusses the entire energy output into a single fine point.
Self-control can help us harness our thoughts, our energies for excellent things.
God wants us to rise above mediocrity. To be people of excellence. Someone once said, "The world belongs to the disciplined." Those who are disciplined and squeeze more out of what they have. They are able to control themselves to go higher and farther.
This we cannot achieve by our own efforts alone. We need the Holy Spirit to enable us. Gal 5:23 tells us that one aspect of the fruit of the Spirit is self-control. Only God can fully bring about this fruit in our lives. We must work together with God.
A young man once asked George Muller, a great man of prayer, to pray for him that God would help him get out of bed every morning to pray. Muller replied, “I will pray if you promise to get your feet out of bed every morning”. Muller understood that God will not do everything for us. We have to do our part.
Start with little things then progress to bigger things. Start with regular devotions. Start with reducing unnecessary spending! Simple discipline to finish tasks for the day. St. Augustine, one of the Early Fathers of the Church wrote:
O that I might have
Towards my God, a heart of flame
Towards my fellow men, a heart of love
Towards myself, a heart of steel.
Let us truly determine today to discipline ourselves so that we can be used of God!
BE FOCUSSED ON THE HEAVENLY TROPHY (v13c) “…set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
Do champion athletes compete in a race with every expectation to lose? Does a businessperson start a business to fail? No! They expect to succeed! And those that succeed, usually succeed because they were properly focussed. What we need to understand is this:
A heavenly trophy awaits.
What is the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed? In v10, the "grace that was to come to you" refers to our salvation. The reason our salvation is referred to as God's grace is because we could not work for it. It is a free gift from God.
We have experienced God's grace through salvation in the past when we accepted Christ. We are experiencing God's grace in the form of His salvation working in our lives now. And we will experience God's grace in the completion of our salvation in all its fullness. When Jesus comes again.
This is our heavenly trophy that awaits us when we reach the finish line.
Champions hope fully.
God's grace has already been freely made available to us. The key is our response. We need to place our hope in it. To "hope fully on the grace to be given you." When we are drowning in the sea and a life jacket is thrown to us, we need to place our hope on it.
The difference with champions is that they fully hope in God's grace. Those that fail to fully hope will not live as champions. Imagine in the women's gymnastics with the uneven bars. If the gymnast is not fully confident with those bars, will she throw herself around with maximum force? The champions have absolute confidence in the equipment and so can perform to the fullest.
In the same way, unless we hope fully upon God’s provision, we will not be able to run the race of faith vigorously and excellently. The race we run will be handicapped by our lack of hope in God's grace. Similarly with our Christian walk. Paul speaks specifically about this.
Unless we hope fully upon God’s provision, we will not be able to run the race of faith vigorously and excellently
1 Cor 9:24-27 (NIV) 24Do 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. 25Everyone 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. 26Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. 27No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
In our Christian walk we have been assured victory if we run according to God’s way. Our assurance is firm because our hope is based on certainty. Sometimes when the going gets tough, when the chips all seem to be down. Refocus on the trophy that awaits us.
We are called to be champions of God. Let us live like champions. Let us prepare ourselves to run the race of faith like champions. Let us be self-controlled that we might finish the race well. Let us be focussed fully on the grace of God, that we might receive our heavenly trophy!
Copyright©️2021 by Wilson Lim. All rights reserved. Materials are free to be distributed in whole or part as long as proper acknowledgement is given to the author and not sold for profit.