Hebrews 12:11 (ESV): 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Hebrews 12 is well known for using the imagery of a runner to illustrate the Christian life. The Hebrews writer urged the believers to get rid anything that might distract them from living for Jesus, especially any sinful habits or desires, and to run with perseverance the race set before them.
Our example of running in the spiritual Olympics is Jesus who endured the cross, despising its’ shame and is now seated at the Father’s right hand. We should not grow weary because the difficulty we have experienced in following Jesus has not been nearly as severe as what Christ suffered.
Our need is self-discipline. Of course, self-discipline is considered a bad word by many, but our promise is that if we discipline ourselves in living for Jesus, there will be an abundant harvest of righteousness as a result.
The summer Olympics just ended last night. While the Olympics today unfortunately seems to be just another platform for political rancor, it is wonderful to see young men and women who have trained diligently realize the reward for their discipline.
The analogy of competing in the Olympics to the spiritual life is not perfect. Olympians train for years and then compete in events over a few weeks’ time. The Christian begins running the spiritual race once he makes the decision to follow Jesus, yet must train spiritually at the same time.
The most important point, however, is that we discipline ourselves to keep running, continue competing, in the race Jesus set before us.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the privilege of running in the spiritual Olympics. May I please you by my disciplined endurance as I focus my eyes on Christ who went before me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.