(Written by Zac Poonen)
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:26 that he had a very definite aim in what he was doing. He didn’t fight or run aimlessly. He ran towards a definite goal. He fired at a definite target.
I remember the days when we cadets were being taught to shoot with rifles in the military academy. We had to lie down on the ground, a few feet apart from each other, with rifles in our hands. Each of us had a target-board some yards in front of us, marked with a number of concentric circles, with a point in the centre called the “bull’s eye”. When we first began shooting, our aim was highly inaccurate. Some of us would be hitting the next person’s target and not our own!! After a while we learnt to hit our own targets.
That’s how it often is with many Christians too. They hit other people’s targets and not their own. They are busybodies in other people’s matters. But if they work out their own salvation, they will gradually learn to hit their own target and finally hit the bull’s eye.Then their aim would have become perfect. Paul’s aim was perfect. He didn’t judge others. He judged himself and subdued his own body. And so he fought a good fight and finished his course (2 Tim.4:7).
Our eyes and our tongue are the two members of our body that we need to discipline the most.
We invite unbelievers to give their hearts to Christ. But the Lord asks us to give Him our bodies (Rom.12:1) – and He asks especially for our eyes and our tongues. If we don’t give Him these, all the time, we cannot expect to be bondslaves or spokesmen of Christ, or to stand approved by God in the final day.
If we don’t keep our eyes under control – at home, in the bus, on the road and in our place of work – we will find that even if we preach like angels, we will be disqualified by God in the final day. Many servants of God through the centuries have fallen because they were not careful with their eyes. They allowed their eyes to wander and look at pretty girls, and soon one thing led to another, and they fell into sin. It is not enough to say that we don’t lust after women. The Bible warns us not even to admire a woman’s BEAUTY, lest it bring us to spiritual poverty (Prov.6:25,26). How careful we must be then.
We have to be careful in the same way with our tongues. God will not use the tongue of a man to preach His Word, if that man allows his tongue to be used by Satan at other times. The Lord told Jeremiah, “If you separate the precious from the worthless (in your conversation), then you will become My spokesman” (Jer.15:19). We must never speak anything that does not come from a heart of goodness. That’s not easy to do, because we are so weak in this area. We have to be ruthless if we are to discipline our tongues.
I am sure there must have been many young people in our land whom God had called in past days to His service, whom He had planned to make His prophets in India. But they did not become prophets, because they were not careful to discipline their eyes and their tongues. They did not subdue their bodies.
We are called members of the Body of Christ, because that expresses an intimate, inward relationship with Christ the Head, just like our bodily members have with our brains in our physical bodies.
Jesus was faithful to keep every part of His body available exclusively for His Father (His Head). It is written in Romans 15:3 that He never pleased Himself. He never sought His own pleasure in the way He used His eyes or His tongue. He did not look at what He wanted to. Nor did He speak what He wanted to. He always sought to do what pleased His Father. Thus He presented His body without any blemish to His Father and became the perfect spokesman of His Father to the world (Heb.9:14). That is how we are to live too, as members of His spiritual Body now.
To be a wholehearted disciple of Jesus is to have a burning desire to present ourselves to God without any blemish.
If we want to build the church as the Body of Christ, we must gather together all those who are eager to present their bodies to God thus, and who are really keen to make their bodies their slaves.
Each time we miss the bull’s eye, we must mourn for our failure. We must mourn when our eyes are not absolutely pure. We must mourn when our tongues have spoken something that was not spoken in absolute goodness.