I loved running; whether it was racing my brothers or competing for my high school and college, running has always been my favorite sport. That’s why I love watching the World Track & Field Championships going on in Eugene, Oregon. This week, most of the world’s best compete for the coveted gold medal and the life-long recognition of being a World Champion.
One word frequently used to describe these athletes is how disciplined they are or are not. This kind of discipline is defined: “to train or develop by instruction and exercise to do something in a controlled and habitual way.” The discipline required to compete at an Olympic level requires years of repetitive preparation, practice, and performance.
When describing this kind of discipline, we use to say, “practice makes perfect,” that quote has been corrected to say, “perfect practice makes perfect.”
A mantra that I and many others have tried living our lives by. I even tried to follow Christ according to this mantra. It never worked as great as it sounds because it became about all that I did, not what Christ has done.
Paul spoke of this in his letter to the Ephesians 2:7-9 “He did this to show us through all the time to come the great riches of His loving-favor. He has shown us His kindness through Christ Jesus. For by His loving-favor you have been saved from the punishment of sin through faith. It is not by anything you have done. It is a gift of God. It is not given to you because you worked for it. If you could work for it, you would be proud.”
Moreover, even the best of us cannot develop and maintain the kind of discipline it takes to “practice perfectly” so that we are worthy of Christ’s love, acceptance, mercy, and grace. Because of our fallen nature, we don’t possess the will nor the ability to be perfect. Our Heavenly Father knows this and reminded us in Philippians 2: 13, “ for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” He doesn’t just tell us what to do; he also provides the will to do it.
Don’t get me wrong; we have responsibilities and a role to play in our relationship with God. Because of our love and gratefulness for Christ, we are to daily dedicate time to listen, learn, love, and live our lives according to his Word. A small but significant gesture of discipline on our part, but the power and presence that transforms us is God’s alone.
Knowing this, we can come boldly before the “throne of grace,” asking God to show us what to do, how to do it, and develop in us the will to do it. A prayer that I pray, A LOT!
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