January 20, 2024

Follow Christ With Your Body

Written by Tripp Prince

A message of transformation should be proclaimed by those who embody a transformed life.”

Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – January 20, 2024

I discipline my body like an athlete, training it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to others I myself might be disqualified. 1 Corinthians 9:27, NLT

Today, as I read the words of 1 Corinthians 9, I’m reminded of a silly schoolyard game that children play. For some reason, endless delight seems to be found in one child grabbing the hand of another and then using that hand to playfully punch the hand’s owner in the face while repeatedly saying, “Stop hitting yourself!” The comedic “genius” in this action, it seems, is rooted in the fact that no sane person would hit themselves repeatedly, for the destructive nature of self-harm is clearly evident, even to a young child.

However, today we’re presented with a curious verse from the Apostle Paul, one that many of our English translations do their best to sanitize and clean up. The NLT, quoted above, offers the generalized and somewhat generic line, “I discipline my body like an athlete.” The NIV, moving us closer to the truth, says, “I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave.” Lastly, the ESV, unwilling to put the full force of the Greek into its main translation, instead relegates this phrase to the footnotes, “I pummel my body and make it a slave.” 

Here we at last begin to feel the force of Paul’s words. He is unwavering in his commitment to orient, not only his thoughts and mind to the kingdom of God, but his bodily desires and physical actions. If and when his body is tempted to rebel and return to the desires of the flesh, he is there, ready and waiting, pummeling it into submission. Perhaps a logical question at this point is the simple, “Why?” Why is Paul so passionately concerned about this level of bodily obedience?

Paul is keenly aware that the message we proclaim about Christ can be compromised and even invalidated by our failure to live by the truth we preach. Can the Lord work through broken and flawed individuals? Of course, and he does so time and time again. In truth, whenever and wherever Christ is proclaimed, this is to be celebrated! Yet this truth does not invalidate the point Paul is also making here today: a message of transformation should be proclaimed by those who embody a transformed life. Or, as Paul would say, if my bodily actions fail to reflect and inhabit the virtues of the kingdom, “I fear that after preaching to others, I myself might be disqualified.”

Preacher or not, each of us is invited to bear witness to the transforming power of the gospel. Some of us proclaim this from pulpits, yet we also do so at PTO meetings, neighborhood socials, and work retreats. Wherever we find ourselves, let us bear witness to the mercy and grace of God, not simply in the words we say, but by bearing fruit that comes from a disciplined and holy life. Training for godliness, like preparing to run a marathon, is no easy task and requires great focus and sacrifice, yet when we keep our eyes on the prize and call of God, not only will we receive unspeakable benefits, but those around us will see, in our words and deeds, the value of an integrated and integrity-filled life.

“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18, ESV)


Father, give us the courage to passionately pursue you, not only in word, but in the disciplined pursuit of your kingdom in every area of our lives, body and soul, through Christ our Lord. Amen.


What steps can you take today to discipline and “pummel” your body into submission for the sake of Christ and others?

Related Reading

Galatians 5:22-23; Colossians 3:17; James 2:14-26

Worship Resource

One Sonic Society: Forever Reign


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