Growing Pains

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. – 1 Corinthians 9:23-27.

It is amazing what pain people will put themselves through, in order to approve their appearance, from botox injections to major cosmetic surgery. The most shocking, and painful thing I have heard of lately, is called the Ilizarov procedure. The procedure is used to hopefully, add a few inches to a person’s height, by breaking the bones in the thighs, or shins. Special leg braces, which must be adjusted four times per day, are placed on the legs to pull the bones apart. This painful process is continued over a six-month period, and then there is still three months of recovery that are necessary. The procedure is very popular with younger Chinese men and women who hope to improve their professional and social situation. One woman said that after the procedure is completed, “I’ll have a better job, a better boyfriend, and eventually a better husband. It’s a long-term investment.”

For us to grow as Christians, it is necessary that we too endure some pain. We must be just as dedicated, and steadfast as a marathon runner. We must persistently continue on with the Christian disciplines that we know are so very necessary to our growth. A daily intake of God’s Word is essential (Matthew 4:4), and some things may have to be sacrificed to bring that about. It may be necessary to wait until the evening to read the morning newspaper. It may be necessary leave the television off until after we have completed our morning Bible study. It may be necessary to wait until later to think about some things at work, so that we will have time for prayer. It may be necessary to give up some time at the lake fishing or swimming, so that we will not forsake the assembling with other believers.

There will be some pain involved in the Christian life if we want to be “temperate in all things” as Paul says. Being temperate is to have temperance, which is a fruit of the Spirit, and means self-control (Galatians 5:23). In order to resist temptation, and control our earthly lusts and desires; bringing our bodies under subjection, we must experience the pain of discipline. We can run the race, and win the prize, but not without the pain of discipline.

The apostle Paul had a greater fear of disqualification, than he did of the pain of discipline, and we should too. The pain of discipline in the Christian life is the greatest long-term investment that anyone can make. How large is your investment?

(For us to grow as Christians it is necessary that we endure some pain.)

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