My New Addiction
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable…. I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Previously, I have mentioned that I can be a bit obsessive in some pursuits. Though I may be lackadaisical in much of my life, when I finally decide to do something, I overdo it. My addictions have taught me that I am capable of profound commitment. With drugs, I pursued a high above all else, so I know that I have the capacity for radical devotion.
Paul spoke of my radical devotion, not discouraging it, but rather, insisting that I point it in the right direction. In today’s passage, He referred to the Isthmian Games, part of the Olympic Games cycle, which his audience knew well. He said that just as the athletes competing in those games committed to radical discipline, he too disciplined his body to obey God.
As athletes commit to a rigid training routine, so I too must commit to radical discipline of my flesh nature. Like an athlete, I must choose to control the will of my body so that it does not control me. I am to discpline my flesh life so that I may pursue my spirit life.
I have two wills. Just as I have two natures (spirit and flesh), I have two desires, which are often at war with each other. I have long-term, healthy desires. I want God, faith, love obedience, and discipline. In my spirit life, I desire things that are good for me, even though they require discipline, work and patience to get them.
Contrast this to the will of my flesh nature which just really wants a donut right now. This other will has a constant craving for pleasure. It wants food, sex and drugs and it wants them immediately. My flesh nature does not care about consequences, it cares about instant gratification. No matter what destruction may follow, my appetite demands satisfaction.
Paul said we are to discipline this flesh life so as not to be ruled by it. Though many of us live our lives in subjugation to our own appetites, we do not have to live this way. Just as the athlete makes a radical commitment to a life that is pointed at a race, we too, are free to make a radical commitment to choose a life pointed at God.
My obsessive personality once pursued drugs above family, faith and career. Though I am no longer pursuing drugs, I still must point myself at something. The energies of my life are always going to be directed somewhere.
I now spend a fair amount of time exercising. It is a healthy pursuit, which I very much enjoy. Paul asked though, if I run aimlessly. Am I disciplining my body just for the sake of the mirror? Even physical fitness can be an unhealthy obsession if that is my only goal. Paul insisted that I control the desires of my body so that I may use my energies to pursue God above all.
How much time do I spend in the gym each week? How does that compare with my time spent with God? Paul insisted that just as I was once addicted to the flesh, I am now to pour all that energy into my relationship with God. God is to be my new addiction.