I Corinthians 9:24-27 (HCSB) ~
Don’t you know that the runners in a stadium all race, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way to win the prize. Now everyone who competes exercises self-control in everything. However, they do it to receive a crown that will fade away, but we a crown that will never fade away. Therefore I do not run like one who runs aimlessly or box like one beating the air. Instead, I discipline my body and bring it under strict control, so that after preaching to others, I myself will not be disqualified.
I had such a fitful night of sleep because my shoulder has been bothering me. When Dan woke me at 5:45, I had to fight my natural tendency to go back to sleep. I didn't want to get up. I felt terrible but I had promised my neighbor that I would walk with her. It would have been easy to send her a text and cancel, but I forced myself to get up and get moving. And you know what? I'm glad I did. Once I got moving, the tiredness left me and we ended up getting in a good 3 miles. If I had given in to my natural tendency I would have probably still been sleeping.
It's easy to talk about self-discipline and the need to exercise self-control in all areas of our lives as believers. It's not always so easy to walk it. So many of us are shocked by Christian leaders who speak about specific sins and yet, often end up caught in those very sins themselves. It's easy to say, "Those who follow the Lord need to do x, y and z" and yet, fail in the very things we talk about.
However, if we don't walk our talk then what we say is meaningless. Have you heard the phrase, actions speak louder than words? It is true that what we do and how we live does speak much louder than the things we say we believe. Our natural tendency is to live according to our sinful natures so it takes quite a bit of self-discipline to live what we say.
We talk about Christ's mercy and grace and yet quite often we extend none of that to others. We pontificate on how much God loves others but fail to share that love to those who can often be unlovely. We preach forgiveness and still withhold it to certain people. We speak about the need to show the fruit of the Spirit, and yet, we gossip, cause dissension and a perform a multitude of other sins big and small.
Let's make sure we walk our talk. Live what you preach. Do what you say. This way we will win the prize promised at the end of our lives!