In the game of football, everything is based upon scoring points or keeping the other team from scoring points. There are many different parts that make up the working machine of a football team, but the ultimate goal is to have more points on the scoreboard than the other team when the clock read 0:00. On offense, the focus is on doing things that puts points on the board. On defense, the focus is on doing things that keep the other team from putting things on the board. On special teams, the focus is on putting points on the board or putting the team in a position where the offense can put points on the board. Everything is based on points.
Football players run, train, and sweat. They do all this in practice in preparation for the games. The outcome of all of this is that they either win or lose the game, but the win or loss is only temporary. There is usually another game.
A spiritual soldier is taught how to fight. They run, train, and sweat all in preparation for the war. The war is the war against evil. This war has an outcome that is forever.
We should consider our habits and disciplines as we study the type of training that a Christ-follower goes through.
In the book of 1 Timothy, Paul compares athletic training to spiritual training as we see in the following verse:
1 Timothy 4:7-10 (NIV)
7 Have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales; rather, train yourself to be godly. 8 For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. 9 This is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance. 10 That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe.
The difference between athletic training and spiritual training is that the training in our Christian life holds eternal importance. Spiritual training involves training ourselves daily to turn away from sin caused by evil and turn towards God. It involves the daily killing of our old nature and putting on our new nature. This new nature was given to us when we chose to step over the faith line.
Paul talks about this in the following verse we find in the book of Romans:
Romans 8:13 (NIV)
13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.
When we choose to live for the things this world offers us, we will only find death in the end. If we chose to live for the things of God, we will find life. It really is that simple.
The life we choose to live is a testimony to the gospel. Our lives are a declaration to others that all things will be restored. Despite living in a broken world where anything from work to relationships can be difficult and painful, we are being restored to a relationship with God. We live under the promise that when Jesus returns and conquers evil for good, God will restore our world to a new heaven and a new earth that will be perfect and free from sin.
The question that we need to ask ourselves is:
Are we living a life that reflects this truth?
If we are then we need to continue to do that and look for ways that we can live that life in a way that glorifies God even more.
If we are not, then why? If not today, then win? None of us know how long we have so we should not put off till tomorrow things we know we should do today.
Let’s all choose to live today like it is our last.