1 Corinthians 9:24-27 "Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win. Everyone who competes in the games exercises self-control in all things. They then do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. Therefore I run in such a way, as not without aim; I box in such a way, as not beating the air; but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified."

How do you react to Paul being "disqualified"? Unthinkable? Not to Paul! Paul understood the distinction between "knowing" and "being." Unfortunately, it is not difficult to encounter Christians who do not understand that distinction.

"Knowing" enables us to do many things. We can judge--declare others lacking, inferior, deficient, pathetic, ungodly, unrighteous, or outcasts. We can teach--"here is how you need to change!" We can criticize--"you need to know, to realize, to focus, to redirect!" If we are not extremely careful, we allow what we "know" to serve as the foundation of an "authoritarian complex." That complex frequently declares decisions God did not declare or establishes criteria that God did not present.

Paul frequently challenged Christians to evaluate their lives and their motives. However, Paul also did two other things. (1) He made it quite clear that he genuinely loved those he challenged. (2) He was very open about his own weaknesses and struggles. Paul "knew" in order that he might "be."

He did not say, "You need to run with God's goal clearly in mind." He said, "I need to run with God's goal clearly in mind." He did not say, "You need to stop fighting the air and calling it boxing." He said, "I must not flail at the air and call it boxing." He did not say, "You must discipline your body!" He said, "I must discipline my body."

Why that emphasis? He understood he could present a needed message to others and experience no personal benefit. Paul "knew" in order to "be." Regardless of what he knew, if he did not use "what he knew" to "be," his knowledge did not profit him.

Never forget you do not "know" to teach, but to "be." The foundation of what we teach must arise from what we are instead of what we know. When we belong to God, we never "arrive." Instead, we always mature and grow toward God's nature and character.

Philippians 3:12 "Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus."

Why did Jesus Christ "lay hold on you"? Are you pressing on?

David Chadwell

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Bulletin Article, 9 November 2003

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