Paul spoke to the Corinthians about his work in ministry. He made reference to the Christian journey being a race which each person runs to win. He made further reference to how athletes discipline their bodies in order to maintain the physical stamina for racing. “Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
While it is important for us to maintain good physical health through diet and exercising, Paul’s reference relates to our spiritual well-being. As we live for God, we should grow in Christlike maturity and overtime lose the appetite for things that are contrary to the will of God. Similar to babies, Christians who are new to the faith need the word broken down in simple terms for them to understand. “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—” (1 Peter 2:2).
As we mature in God, there is an expectation that we grow in spiritual strength and develop the stamina for sound doctrine. Those who are mature in God should be in a position to not only read and understand the word, but to teach the word to others. Moreover, the mature have a responsibility to demonstrate behaviour which serves as an example to newborns and those who are unsaved to follow.
Paul also spoke about adjusting to accommodate those around him for the sake of the gospel. “To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some” (1 Corinthians 9:22). God will continue to develop character in us and allow us to be tested in order that we will grow. Most parents don’t take pleasure in disciplining their children, but they are wise enough to understand that it is necessary to ensure that their children become valuable members of society.
“For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it” (Hebrews 12:11).