Paul speaks here to the tendency toward self- indulgence common among Corinthians; he challenges them to consider the discipline of a Greek athlete (every other year Corinth hosted the Isthmian games in which athletes competed for a coveted prize. The Corinthians were, therefore, intimately acquainted with the discipline Paul was talking about). Paul challenges the Christians to the same discipline and rigorous self -denial as a prize -winning athlete, yet not for the reward of a garland of green leaves, but for a crown that lasts forever (Women of Faith Study Bible, 2001).
Paul challenges us to be mentally tough Christians. Here he says “I beat my body and make it my slave.” Of course he doesn’t mean literally beating himself. What he is talking about here is way beyond “mind over matter.” It’s about taking something seemingly uncontrollable and molding it through pure will power in order to accomplish a greater purpose. Something bigger than yourself and so much more important that you are willing to deny yourself (the flesh) again and again to achieve it. Paul holds himself to a higher standard so that people will notice that he walks his talk. He is willing to do whatever it takes to carry out the will of his Lord.
This can be done. It is achievable. What is holding us back from doing all that Christ asks of us? Shouldn’t we be sold out just like Paul is in this letter to the Corinthians?
Lord, Help me to deny myself. There are so many distractions in my days and I create so many lame excuses as to why I shouldn’t do something I know I need to. Please help me to discover your will. Once I know my goal help me to be mentally tough and unwavering to achieve whatever it is you have planned for me to do. Give me the will power to push through and get this done no matter what the cost or what I “feel like” doing at the time. I was told before that it’s not about how you feel. Feelings come and go. Your goal is the same. Help me to do the best that I can with every day and never let a moment slip by unnoticed. Amen.
Contributed by Annlee Goggins