“I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified.” —1 Corinthians 9:27 NLT
When I take my wife out for lunch, I’m usually hungry, so I’ll decide what I want in the first minute. But even if it’s the same restaurant we’ve been to before, she has to read the menu. Then she needs to ask the waiter a bunch of questions. Then she usually ends up ordering what she ordered last time.
The choice you make for lunch is not a big deal, but the choices of life are super important. Life is filled with choices to do right or wrong, every single day. No one is exempt from temptation’s pull, or from making the wrong choices. And all choices—both good and bad—have consequences.
It comes down this this—we make our choices, then our choices make us.
On more than one occasion, the Christian life is compared to running a race, and the objective is to finish and win that race. In Philippians 3:13–14 Paul said, “Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I strain to reach the end of the race and receive the prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us up to heaven” (NLT).
As we run this race, we must play by the rules or we will be disqualified. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 9:27, “I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified” (NLT).
In other words, Paul is saying, “I do not want to be a hypocrite. I want to practice what I preach. We’ve seen a number of athletes become disqualified over the years for playing by their own rules.
Rules matter and you have to play by them. In our spiritual race, God has set up His rules. The rulebook they are found in is called the Bible. We can’t pick and choose the rules we like and ignore the ones we don’t. So the choice is yours. Will you be disqualified because you don’t want to follow God’s rules? Or will you play by the His Rulebook and run to win?
The story of Johnny Cash’s life and spiritual struggles offers hope to anyone who has had trouble staying on the straight and narrow path—and reminds us that God redeems broken lives and makes them whole again. My new book, Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon is a fascinating look at a unique and talented musician and follower of Christ!