Training vs. Trying

Read: 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes . . . goes into strict training. (vv. 24-25 NIV)

Try harder. Work more. Pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. These messages clamor loudly in Western culture. But the Bible tells us that resilience is not a matter of trying harder. It is built through training wisely—taking up certain disciplines that help us grow in grace.

The apostle Paul urged the Christians in Corinth to run in such a way as to get the prize. This required entering into strict training. Paul said he “punished” his body, which is not about self-violence but an athletic term for choosing to do certain things (to train) even when it’s hard or you don’t feel like it. That’s why we call it discipline. Spiritual disciplines such as Scripture reading, prayer, fasting, solitude, simplicity, worship, hospitality, and service do not win points with God or earn grace. Rather, spiritual disciplines put us in a place where God’s power can transform us.

The NFL Hall of Fame coach Tom Landry used to tell his players: “My job is to get you to do what you don’t want to do so that you can become the kind of players you want to be.” Paul calls us into strict training so that we can become the kind of resilient Christ-followers that we want to be. What is one spiritual discipline you will take up in this season of your life to grow your resilience? —Brian Keepers

As you pray, ask God to reveal which spiritual discipline will help you grow in grace and build resilience.

About the Author

Brian Keepers has been an ordained pastor in the Reformed Church in America for 23 years. He is currently serving as the lead pastor of Trinity Reformed Church in Orange City, Iowa. Brian is married to Tammy, and they have two daughters and a granddaughter.