Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, 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 receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:24-27
In yesterday’s devotional, we made the assertion that the body can be a Holy Partner. God designed our body to assist us if we learn to submit our bodies as instruments for righteousness. We even began to explore how spiritual disciplines can help us in that training process. In light of that, read through the passage above thoughtfully.
What does it look like for a person to leverage the body’s tendency towards habit forming? How can habit forming become a powerful tool for your spiritual journey? Paul tells us that he disciplines his body to keep it under control. The question is, under control of what?
We are creatures with many parts. We are mind/emotion, body, will, and soul. As humans, we often want to change who we are. We think that it is our will that enables us to change. After all, our free will is what gives us the option to change. It’s well put in the book Soul Keeping where John Ortberg recounts a conversation he had with Dallas Willard;
“The will is very good at making simple and large commitments like getting married, or deciding to move someplace,” Dallas explained. “But it is very bad at trying to override habits and patterns and attitudes that are deeply rooted in us. If you try to improve your soul by willpower, you will exhaust yourself and everyone around you.”
Ortberg, John. Soul Keeping (p. 37). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
This is such an important truth to learn. The question is, how can the body aid us with this challenge. Well you see, the will is good at deciding to commit to spiritual practice. The body is then good at internalizing that practice to the point where it becomes a habit (transformation). If we begin to understand all of the parts of ourselves and how God designed them to work in harmony, we begin to truly understand what it looks like change. If you want a wonderful resource about this, read the book Soul Keeping by John Ortberg.
This week, Choose one physical practice that can help you train in the way of Jesus. For ideas, you can go here.
Find a rubber band that fits snugly around your wrist. Every time you notice that rubber band stop and practice what you have committed to. Finally, switch the band to the other wrist so that it becomes more present to your consciousness. Do this throughout the day and see if it helps you remember to practice more frequently.
By Aaron Bjorklund