“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” 1 Cor 9:24-27
Every year about this time, whether you are a football fan or not, a lot of our attention is drawn to the Super Bowl. For a team to make it through three pre-season games, 16 weeks of the regular season, and then additional playoff games…it’s quite an accomplishment.
Getting to the final game is a combination of talented players and competent coaches.
I can’t help but being drawn into the analogy between what makes a great coach and our heavenly coach, God.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser…” John 15:1 (ESL)
God is the head coach in our lives; Jesus is our offensive, defensive coordinator. He’s busy but he does a great job.
“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:2
A football coach prunes players who can’t or won’t perform to his expectations. God prunes those who aren’t productive. But the good news for those who are believers “are (already) clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” John 15:3
You just need more practice on your life skills.
Abide in me…
Jesus used the phrase “abide in me” nine different times in John 15:1-17 (ESV). He is serious about wanting to develop a close relationship with each one of us.
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” John 15:4
One player by himself can’t make a team. All the players have to respect the coach and play their best for him.
Without buying into and accepting the coach’s direction and dream, the team won’t be successful.
However, if a player has a problem buying into the coach’s dream and direction, he is going to be cut. “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” John 15:6 If in the game of life, if a person doesn’t accept Jesus’ coaching direction, (accepting his offer of eternal salvation), he will ultimately end up in the fire of hell.
This is really good assurance from our eternal coach. If you want to be successful in your marriage, jobs, any thing in your game of life, practice what the coach is teaching, and you will be successful.
Jesus recruited you to play on his team. He has the perfect position all lined out for each of us. “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.”
Lord, I want to exercise self-control in all things, not run aimlessly, and discipline my body and keep it under control. I want to be the the best at my position, make you proud and the team proud. Help me to not accumulate penalties in life.