A devotional by Chaplain Paul Anderson
“But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.” –1 Corinthians 9:27 ESV
In my younger years, I enjoyed Thursday nights when the 30-minute TV show Gilligan’s Island would be shown. It was a dramatic comedy about some people who were on a boat tour around a tropical island. Unexpectedly, a storm erupts. The yacht was blown off course and grounded on an uncharted island. The show chronicles the challenges and adjustments of the seven castaways.
I must confess that Gilligan’s Island conditioned my perspective on the “castaway” statement of the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:27. These people were lost and stranded with nothing but hope that someone might see their signal attempts. They had no assurance that they would ever be rescued. But they tried everything that they could think of to be found and saved.
If Paul, the prolific evangelist and prophet of the growing movement of Christianity, was not secure, then how could I be?
Back in the day, I tried out for the Track team at my school. I made it. My races were the long ones (the 880 and 1 mile meets). I was not fast, but I was steady and I had endurance. While the other athletes practiced their long jumps, high jumps and short races, we who were on the cross-country team, ran. When we returned from our two-or three-mile runs, the coach would bring us to the starting line. Once he knew that we could finish, he made us rehearse the start of the race.
If we jumped before the starting pistol sounded, we could be disqualified. If we started on a pace that was too slow, we would never catch up. If we came out of the starting blocks too fast, we would not be able to sustain the pace. He tested us, repeatedly, so that we would not be disqualified or flameout in the race.
The Greek word “adokimos” that is often translated in English as “castaway”, is more akin to failing a test of strength or not meeting a standard. The Apostle Paul does not say in this text that he would be put off the team or lose his relationship with God through Christ. However, Paul does want to maintain the confidence of the ultimate spectator of our lives, God. So, his daily regimen is to exercise his body and his mind so that he would be able to overcome temptations and rightly perceive distractions that could derail his profession of faith.
Paul wants to avoid the slippery slope of hypocrisy. He preached the love of Christ and virtues of morality, temperance, equality, and spiritual freedom. He did not want to slip into vortices of lust, gluttony, bigotry, misogyny, or abusive legalism. So, he lived a disciplined life.
In like manner, we should stay physically, emotionally and spiritually healthy. To do so, we must focus on the life and love of our Redeemer. Reading Scripture, noble books, and devotionals is healthy. Shifting focus away from the lusts of the flesh that many healthy believers still wrestle with. Redirect and reinvest your imagination. Choose the better diet. Choose to treat people better than how you wish to be treated. Disrupt abuse whenever you see it or feel it rising within you. Exercise grace and graciousness in all your interactions, especially the tough ones.
By doing this, you will meet the mark. If not, you will come closer to the center of God’s will. That really is the goal. God does not kick people off His team. There are those who might choose to quit. We are all free moral agents. Choose self-discipline and rectitude, daily. With God’s help, you can’t lose or get lost.
Let’s Pray: Dear God, thank You for this new day. As we go about our day, challenge us to do more and be more of who You have destined us to be. Guide us in all things and steer us around the sins that might beset and shipwreck us. Deliver us into the faith adventures and harbors of grace that You have destined us for. In Jesus’s Name I pray. Amen.
Chaplain Paul Anderson served for 20 years as a U.S. Navy Chaplain. Over 26 years of active duty, he was promoted through the ranks from Seaman Apprentice (E2) to his final rank as Commander (O5) in the Chaplain’s Corps.
Prior to his Naval career, Chaplain Anderson pastored in the Allegheny East and Potomac Conferences of Seventh-day Adventists. His undergraduate preparation for ministry was completed at Washington Adventist University in Takoma Park, Md.
He has subsequently earned four graduate degrees: a Master of Divinity from Andrews University in Michigan, a Master of Education in Counseling and Personnel Services from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland and a Masters of Sacred Theology in Religion and Culture from Boston University. His Doctor of Ministry degree was conferred by Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.
Chaplain Anderson also completed four units of Clinical Pastoral Education at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He also holds certifications in Suicide Awareness and Prevention, Civil Mediation, Alternative Workplace Dispute Resolution, Temperament Analysis, Marriage Enrichment, Workforce Diversity, and is a certified Life Coach.
You may connect with Chaplain Anderson via email at this address, email@example.com.