Discipline is a word we often use in association with athletic training. We think of athletes spending hours hitting innumerable tennis balls or baseballs, swimming laps, or (often for we older persons), spending money to torture ourselves as such things as the Stairmaster. For many years I have thought of I Cor. 9:24-27 in this regard. Paul talks about athletes training for games by showing such discipline.
When I reread this entire passage this week, the connection of verses 24-27, about discipline, to the preceding verses struck me. What is Paul advocating we be disciplined about? Verses 16-23 are about how Paul accommodates himself to others in order to share the gospel. For the sake of the gospel Paul says he “becomes all things to all men.” (verse 22). So Paul, as much as he is able, disciplines himself to, for example, become weak to the weak (verse 22). To have his own way, he doesn’t insist on his own way, for what Paul wants above all is to advance the Gospel.
I pray that I would advance the Gospel by coming alongside, trying to understand others, and be a peacemaker.