SELF-CONTROL BRINGS SHORT-TERM AND LONG-TERM REWARDS.
Bible Reading of the Day: Read 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.
Verse of the Day: “All athletes practice strict self-control. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize” (1 Corinthians 9:25).
“I never knew there were so many rules for a dumb track team!” Manny said as he and Billy left the orientation meeting for the school track team. “Like what?” Billy asked.
“Like these!” Manny answered, pulling a crumpled pack of cigarettes out of his coat pocket. “The coach said if he saw us smoking, we’d be kicked off the team.” Billy smiled. “Yeah, well, that’s the way it goes.” “That’s easy for you to say. You don’t smoke.”
Billy shrugged. “Like Coach said, if you want to win, you won’t be putting that stuff into your lungs.” They stopped at Billy’s locker; he pulled out his book bag and then slammed the locker shut. They headed for the front doors of the school.
Manny squinted at Billy as he asked, “You think it really makes a difference? You think I’ll really run faster if I quit smoking?”
“Think about it,” Billy said. “Do you think breathing has anything to do with running?”
“Yeah,” Manny admitted, “I guess you’re right. It’s just gonna be so hard to quit.”
“But if you want to win, you’re going to have to show some self-control, and …”
“That’s easy for you to say,” Manny interrupted. “You’re not the one who has to quit. You don’t know what it’s like.”
“I don’t?” Billy said. “You think it doesn’t take self-control to say no when all your friends are pushing cigarettes and stuff on you? You think it doesn’t take guts not to start in the first place? You think you’re the only one who has to do something hard?”
“No, I didn’t mean it like that,” Manny said, holding his hands in the air as if Billy were holding him at gunpoint. “I meant that you already have self-control; you’re already in shape for the track team. I’ve got to start getting in shape. Somehow.”
“I’ll help you,” Billy said. “Give me your cigarettes.”
“Now?” Manny asked.
“Yeah,” Billy answered. “Like you said, you’ve got to start getting in shape.” Manny rolled his eyes and dug in his pocket. He drew out the pack of cigarettes and handed it to Billy.
TO DISCUSS: According to today’s Bible reading, what two kinds of prizes might people get when they exercise self-control? Which kind of prize do you think Manny was trying for? Which kind of prize do you think Billy was trying for? Who are you most like: Manny or Billy? Why?
TO PRAY: “Lord, when it comes to self-control, sometimes we come in dead last. Help us to run toward the eternal prize that you promise.”