For some people, the Christian faith is a nice way to be comforted and feel better about yourself. Certainly God brings us real comfort as we trust in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:3-5), and those whose hope in Christ is firm have a confidence to move forward in obedience. But our faith is not about us feeling good about ourselves; the goal of our faith is that we will be pleasing to our commanding officer, Jesus Christ. And that will involve disciplined, sacrificial service.
Paul introduces three pictures of how we should follow Jesus: as our military commander, as the one who arranges an athletic competition and as a farmer who works hard for a good harvest. All three scenarios demand hard work, discipline and endurance. There is no suggestion of personal comfort being one of the objectives, quite the opposite. The motivation to continue is not the immediate ‘feel good’ factor but the end result. That result brings glory to God and also a reward to those who have served faithfully. That reward is literally ‘out of this world’: it is not accessible in this life but assured in the next.
It is important to think about why God has saved us. Otherwise we will live the Christian life to suit our own convenience. Instead, He has saved us to participate in the battle to expose the evil in people’s hearts and announce the gospel; to run the race which Jesus has arranged uniquely for each individual believer; to sow the seed of the Word and to harvest the crop of righteousness and new believers. That is why Jesus paid for us with His blood and bought us: He therefore owns us and has full rights over us. Pleasing Him should be our highest ambition. So let’s think about how closely our lives match up with that – and having thought, lets decide to make decisions which will lead to self-denying, God-glorifying action.
© Dr Paul Adams