“Do 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. Everyone 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. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV
To follow Jesus well, you need to practice certain disciplines. Now disciplines are simply habits that are not yet formed in you. They are not yet part of who you are. Consequently you don’t do them. If ever, you just do them sporadically. You may have to force yourself to do them. Like exercise, for instance. If it’s not part of your daily routine, you struggle. In fact, you may try it at first, but then you give up easily. Why? It’s a discipline. Once it becomes a habit, you won’t think about it anymore. You will just do it instinctively.
Now following Jesus requires that you learn certain spiritual disciplines. As you learn them, you must begin to practice them by faith. What does it mean to practice something by faith? It means that you trust God for three things: the willingness, the ability, and the results. You cannot do these disciplines by your own effort. You have to trust God that He will give you the desire, the strength to do it, and, whatever the results, whether positive or negative, the grace to persevere. You will indeed persevere, because you know that what you sow you will eventually reap. This is what it means to practice something by faith. It’s all about trusting God.
In my next post, I will talk about the five crucial spiritual disciplines of a healthy follower of Jesus. -PB