After watching skiing on TV, we marvelled at the fitness of the athletes as they twisted and turned up hills and then down. In some cases they went non-stop for over an hour. What training must be required; how they must ‘push’ their bodies in striving to achieve a national honour.

In 1 Corinthians 9 Paul asks the question, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners compete, 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 obtain a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable” (verse 24). It is difficult to imagine something which us “imperishable”. Paul then describes his approach, describing his attitude that should make us meditate within ourselves.

Paul writes, “So I do not run aimlessly … But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified” (verse 26). Self-discipline is the ultimate challenge! We can usually accept discipline when others are applying it to us for a good reason, but spiritual discipline requires clearness of vision. We must also have a clear view of what disqualification means! Yet we must serve our Lord because our love for him is genuine – fully appreciating the spiritual joy that we hold in our hearts!

These days, with so few being willing to listen (or read) we might give up on being a light shining in a dark place! But the darker it is the stronger our light is going to be! Or is the darkness so thick it is smothering it? There is a marvelous Proverb we should use a guiding principle, “But the path of the righteous is like the light of the dawn, which shines brighter and brighter until the full day” (4:18).