Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.
Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training.
They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last for ever.
Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air.
No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.
1 Corinthians 9:24-27
One of my favorite parts of watching the Olympic Games is the “Meet the Athlete” moments. I guess I just love a good human interest story. Still it fascinates me to meet the parents, visit the home town, and see how these men and women got to their Olympic stage.
But here’s one thing I’ve noticed: while each story is different, they all contain two of the same elements: training and sacrifice.
All top athletes spend time training and they all give up personal comforts to stay in top physical condition.
Let’s be honest: You don’t see a lot of montages focusing on Olympians spending hours in front of a tv, reading a good book, or relaxing at the spa. No, they live in the gym or training center.
Here’s another thing you don’t see a lot of: Top athletes gorging on Big Macs, Rocky Road Ice Cream or Doritos.
No, you hear them talk about kale, vitamins, and a healthy diet. This doesn’t mean that they don’t desire junk food, it just means that the goal of victory means more to them than the tasty morsel of the moment.
In the end, they are physically fit because they don’t feast on things that are bad for them.
As Christians, if we desire to acquire the rich, full, abundant life that God has planned for us, we need to make the same commitment.
Just as an athlete commits to a healthy physical diet, we need to commit to feeding our hearts and minds things that are spiritually healthy and avoiding the junk in the world that makes our hearts and minds sick.
You see, one of the biggest reasons that Christians are living anemic spiritual lives today is that they are:
Not feasting on the Word of God.
They are indulging their minds in too much junk food---worldly forms of entertainment that are making them sick
I know, primarily, because I’ve been there.
I’ve always been a big fan of romantic music and dramatic stories. Even though I was raised better with very strict rules regarding entertainment, when I went to college I indulged myself in romantic, secular music, chick flicks and television shows that I should not have been watching. I saw the affect that it had on my soul and my emotions. It was like drinking poison---it was making me spiritually and emotionally sick.
After four years of entertainment choices that did nothing but feed my already twisted thinking about love, sensuality, and relationships, it was time to end their influence. I went cold turkey and began starving some avenues that were creating appetites in my life that were contrary to God’s plan and God’s will.
Specifically, I stopped listening to all secular music, and dramatically edited the quality of my t.v. and movie choices. I also gave up all fiction material, stopped reading all non-Christian woman’s magazines or any other written material that was influencing my thought process.
In a way, I was going through a spiritual cleansing---purging my heart and mind of every influence that wasn’t benefiting me. Even though it wasn’t exactly easy giving up all of these unhealthy forms of entertainment, it was one of the best choices that I ever made.
It wasn’t until I repented of focusing on things that were impure and chose to stop filling my mind with these images that I began feeling spiritually and emotionally healthy again. Instead of feeling depressed, I was able to find joy in the life that I had. Rather than defining “womanhood” through Hollywood’s eyes, I was able to find my identity in Jesus. I even started feeling better about myself when I wasn’t constantly comparing myself to the sexy seductresses on television.
What I learned that there truly is freedom in focusing on what is pure and absolutely NOTHING but bondage when you focus on the impure. Believing anything else is just falling into the traps of one of Satan’s mind games. That’s not God’s will for His daughters. That’s why He gives us Scriptures like Philippians 4:8 that tell us where we should focus our attention.
“Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” (The Message)
The truth is that how we run our race really is influenced by what we feed our minds. If we’re feeding our minds on sexual innuendo, sexually explicit material, pornography (hard or soft), profanity, sci-fi or occult themes we are choosing to feast on garbage and poisoning our hearts, minds, and spirits.
So how do we know if we’re mentally feasting on the right things?
Recently, my brother downloaded a food app that tells him how many calories he eats with each meal every day.
As he was calculating his calorie intake, I thought, “I wonder what would happen if Christians took a week and wrote down everything they watched, listened to, or read in a week?
What would be the result?
Would you be surprised at how much garbage you were mentally ingesting?
How would you feel about posting the results online for all to see?
If you’d be uncomfortable with your friends, fellow Christians, or your pastor seeing the results, perhaps it’s time to make a change.
Then I started thinking about my own weekly entertainment intake.
Where there things I needed to eliminate?
The truth is that we cannot live healthy, victorious Christian lives if we’re constantly feeding our hearts and minds with sinful things.
It’s not possible for athletes, and it’s not possible for us.
Now comes the decision: Will we evaluate our spiritual eating habits and make the necessary changes?
It’s the only way to run your race with victory and fulfill the plan God has for your life.
Let’s get started today!