August 29 I Monday
1 Corinthians 10:19-33
“Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules.” —2 Timothy 2:5
As we watched the Winter Olympics earlier this year in Beijing, China, many athletes had to work hard to qualify for a chance to compete with the best of the world. In order to compete in the Olympic Games, these athletes not only had to be dedicated to their sport, but most importantly, adhere to strict rules. Following strict rules is not just important in present-day sporting events; it was also vital during the early church. Paul tells Timothy, “…anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5). Paul’s use of an athlete as an analogy of the Christian life is to caution Timothy, “Do not be disqualified, compete according to the rules.”
But how do we compete in a way where we will not be disqualified? John tells us, “…whoever claims to live in Him must live as Jesus did” (1 John 2:6). Now, that is a tall order—how do we live as Jesus did? We may expect a list of strict rules but we find the answer in Matthew 11:28-30 as Jesus tells us, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.…For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” The primary call to discipleship in the ministry of Jesus was Himself, not religion, not spirituality, not church attendance, not ministry, not serving or even prayer. Rabbis in Jesus’s day would call people to Torah, philosophers in Jesus’s day would call people to ideas, but Jesus called people to Himself.
Jesus calls people who are tired of themselves because when He talks about being heavy laden, the Greek terminology He uses describes a self-imposed pace that is unsustainable, like someone who has wearied themselves out by the pace they are running. And the reason we become weary and heavy laden is because we are wearing the wrong yoke. The question is not will we wear a yoke, but whose yoke are we wearing?
What is amazing about a yoke is that it is worn by two individuals; Jesus Himself is the other individual who is wearing that yoke alongside us. It is His yoke and His burden that we are stepping into. As athletes for Christ, may we release the self-imposed pace that is unsustainable and take the yoke of Jesus as we heed to the words, “…let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith” (Hebrews 12:1-2).
Prayer: Precious Jesus, thank You that Your yoke is easy and Your burden is light. I am grateful that I am not running this race alone but You are with me each step of the way.