For about 40 years now I have been an avid runner. What started in elementary school has evolved over the years into a six-days-a-week routine (I take Sundays off) training for races ranging from 10 km to the marathon. Over this span the Lord has taught me many valuable lessons from the world of running that pertain to the fruit of self-control. The New Testament word used in Galatians 5:23 means “the holding in of passions and appetites” (Rienecker/Rogers, 1976). Here are a few of those lessons:
Whatever the weather… I go
There are some days I’d rather hunker down inside than step outside and brave the elements, but the workout doesn’t get done by waiting for the weather to be perfect—the show must go on!
The snooze button is off limits
Oh no you won’t, not if you already agreed the night before through a Facebook group chat that you would meet the others at a time that included darkness and no cows up. It’s extra hard in the winter, too, when the warm bed begs you to stand the others up.
Not all workouts are created equal
To properly train for a race you must include a variety of workouts, including nasty intervals and arduous hill repeats. No pain, no gain if you want to do well on race day.
Know when to quit and try again tomorrow
Some days you just don’t have it, so admit it and plan for the next day.
As a Christian, the Lord is daily at work in me to develop the fruit of self-control and draw me closer to him. So from the observations above, here is how I have applied them to my walk with Christ:
Self-control means living the Christian life even when you don’t feel like it, simply because it’s the right thing to do and you will benefit in the end.
Self-control means being accountable to someone so that you don’t resort to laziness and bad habits and fall off the spiritual turnip truck.
Self-control means that some days are harder than others, and some areas of life hold more temptation than other areas. Give it all to God and ask him to help you muscle through on those tough days.
Self-control recognizes that we still fail, but by confessing our failures “God is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).