I am currently in the middle of an 8 week exercise program designed to help get my fifty year old body back into shape. Similar to a building block, each week adds additional disciplines, exercises and reps. It’s one thing to say that you are going to run first thing in the morning or workout after coming home from work, but executing this plan is much more difficult than I thought. Thus, the only way to endure, improve and strengthen my body is through exercise and discipline.
Therefore I always exercise and discipline myself [mortifying my body, deadening my carnal affections, bodily appetites, and worldly desires, endeavoring in all respects] to have a clear (unshaken, blameless) conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men, Acts 24:16.
During his opening argument in a hearing before Governor Felix in Rome, the apostle Paul refers to a different kind of exercise and discipline. This statement points to 3 aspects which every individual must overcome: carnal affections, bodily appetites and worldly desires. While these inner demons appear to be similar, each attack, tempt and wrestle for control of your body. When faith is not exercised and discipline not enforced, addiction and bad habits ravage unprepared souls.
Therefore I do not run uncertainly (without definite aim). I do not box like one beating the air and striking without an adversary. But [like a boxer] I buffet my body [handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships] and subdue it, for fear that after proclaiming to others the Gospel and things pertaining to it, I myself should become unfit [not stand the test, be unapproved and rejected as a counterfeit], 1 Corinthians 9:26-27.
The apostle Paul uses an analogy of a long distance runner and boxer to illustrate what it takes to spiritually exercise and discipline your faith. While I know nothing about boxing, I can speak to Paul’s comment about running with a definite aim. Before running, stretching must occur to loosen up muscles to avoid injury. Like my current exercise program, running should start at a short distance, then gradually incease distances each week. Cutting corners, skipping a step or jumping ahead often results in a weaker body. Thus, the most logical starting place for exercise and discipline is to take life one day at a time; improving with each passing day.
by Jay Mankus