Yesterday in church, the pastor spoke on 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, which talks about the need to “run in such a way as to get the prize”, and making our bodies our slaves so that we will not be disqualified. I couldn’t help thinking that though we often focus on discipline and training when looking at this passage, there’s another element that we often miss: mindset.
A friend of mine used to babysit and play tennis with the famed tennis star, Andy Murray. Something that she once said has remained imprinted on my mind: “Really, when you’re looking at the top five people in any sport, any of them could win the match. It often comes down to the person’s arrogance: how much they believe they will win. Andy Murray is a really arrogant guy. He always has been. That’s why he’s so good.”
How does that arrogance translate into our own lives, when we as Christians are told to be humble? Perhaps the key lies in the mentality with which we approach our lives. Perhaps the key is to daily claim the victory that Jesus has already won on our behalf. How many times have we allowed ourselves to get sucked into defeatist attitudes? How many times do we use “perseverance” and “faithfulness” as adjectives to insulate ourselves from the reality that we are not living in victory or joy – that we are not living the abundant life that Jesus has graciously given us as an inheritance?
The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that living in victory is itself a spiritual discipline.
When disheartened, we might be tempted to read these things and think, “That’s all well and good, but what if in my life there are no apparent victories? What if everything around me is crumbling?”
That, I think, is when true discipline and faith come in. Some of the most joyful, triumphant Japanese missionaries I have ever met shared this verse with us last year:
“We walk by faith, not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7)
What if that’s the key?
In those times where sweet triumph is lost in the dissonance of defeat, in the times when our hearts are pummelled and broken, when we grope blindly for hope – that is when, through Jesus’ strength, we can choose to claim the victory by faith. The sweet incense of our offering of faith curls its perfume up to the throne of grace; He inhales deeply and smiles.