“But I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified.” (I Corinthians 9:27)
Paul wrote here that he “disciplined” his body. The New American Standard Bible indicates that the word “discipline” there is literaly “bruise.” The point is that Paul kept his body under control, so that it served him, and what he was seeking to accomplish on behalf of the gospel. In fact he said he made his body his “slave” for that purpose.
I wonder how many Christians in America today could say a similar thing about their bodies? It seems rather than “disciplining” our bodies, many of us are pampering them instead. In fact it appears that numbers of us are letting our bodies control US, instead of US controlling our bodies.
Now let’s be clear: the Christian life is NOT all about physical health, or a certain diet, etc. Paul indicated elsewhere that the Kingdom of God was not about eating and drinking (Romans 14:17). But in light of the truth we find in the present verse, it seems imperative that we should purposefully deny ourselves, and discipline ourselves, just to make sure that our bodies are under our control for the sake of gospel service, and that they are not ruling us. And it does not appear that too many American Christians are doing this.
This is one reason for fasting — to just subjugate the body’s desires. It is one means of saying that the desire for food will not control you. Peter says in his first epistle, “Do not fear their fear … but sanctify Jesus as Lord in your heart.” (I Peter 3:14-15) If Jesus is our Lord, that means that other people and things are NOT — including food. One application of that verse is that we should have no “master” over us than Jesus: not caffeine, or food, or anything else.
We need to keep a godly balance here: the Christian life is NOT about physical things — but at the same time we DO need to make sure that our bodies are under the discipline of the Lordship of Christ. What about you? Is your body your slave, for the sake of the gospel — or has it become your master?