Summary: Part four of this series on Choices focuses on verse twenty-seven of 1 Corinthian chapter nine. This message focuses on the word "Disqualified" and the meaning of the prefix "Dis."
Choices – Part 4
Choose To Live A “Dis” Free Life
This is part four of my series “Choices” and is titled “Choose to Live a “Dis” Free Life.” Our foundational Scripture from 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus; not with uncertainty. Thus I fight; not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.”
This morning I will focus on verse twenty-seven. This verse sums up the point that Paul was making in this whole chapter – we need to practice self-discipline (following the rules) in order to stay in and win our race (winning souls for Christ.) Self-discipline is defined as “the ability to do what is necessary without needing to be urged by someone else.” This means that we make the decision to do what is right without anyone telling us – it is within us to know. We follow the rules when we are alone and when we are in the presence of others. This is important because our lives are played out on a stage. Others are always watching how we live. If we individually take a close look at our lives, how we’re living and the choices we’re making, do our lives reflect the Christ we claim to serve? Better yet, ask this question: “Does my life inspire others to want to have a relationship with Christ?” As you know, Christians can be some of the happiest, joyful, God-praising people you’ll ever meet. They can also be some of the most beat down, depressed, sad, angry, despondent people you’ll ever meet. Both groups claim Jesus as their Savior, but He is represented in their lives differently. As you think of your answer to my first question, now consider this second question: “If you were the sinner (non-believer) and you had a choice, what qualities would you look for in the lives of Christians that would motivate you to become a one?” This is the heart of what was captured in the ninth chapter of First Corinthians.
The answer to these questions are linked directly to what Paul said in verse twenty-seven. He said “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” (1 Corinthians 9:27) Let’s examine the word “disqualified” more closely.
I. Being Disqualified
The word disqualify is defined in the Encarta dictionary is “to make or declare somebody unfit to do or take part in something.” When Paul wrote this to the Church in Corinth, it meant “disapproved after testing.” The one fact that both definitions makes clear is that the disqualification is not something that happens beforehand, but afterwards. In other words, being disqualified is not based on ability, but on discipline. Let me explain.
The word disqualified is a compound word consisting of the two words “dis” and “qualified.” I want to review the definitions in reverse. Qualified is defined as “having the abilities, qualities, attributes necessary to perform a particular job or task.” When you are qualified to do something you have what it takes to actually do it. You are able and ready to do that particular “something.” The word “dis” is a Latin prefix, and please listen closely to this, indicating “reversal, negation or removal.” When this word is attached to another word, it speaks to the cancellation of whatever the word that follows it hold. Consider these examples of word whose meanings were changed after “Dis” was added to them:
• Dishonest: Were honest once, but not now; broken rule!
• Disgrace: When our sins (rule breaking) becomes public we fall “from” grace and become a disgrace to others!
• Disagree: to fail to agree.
• Discourage: When we do the opposite of what we have been commanded to do which is to encourage one another.
• Disease: Sick – you’re no longer “at ease.” When we break the rules of how we treat our bodies, we can become sick.
And what can I say about dishonor, disobedient, displease, distort and disturb? All of these words represent a state of reversal, something being lost after it was once present. Adding the word “dis” to another word means that what once was has now been cancelled and/or reversed! Do you see this? These are just a few examples to illustrate the point that we can only be disqualified if we had previously been qualified! As it pertains to a race, a person cannot be disqualified because of their abilities. If a person meet the qualifications they are able to compete. When you consider what we have been given through Christ, we have met the qualifications necessary to run in our race. Our abilities and qualifications get us in the race but it’s our self-discipline that keeps us in it. In a race, disqualification comes by breaking one or more of the rules of the race. In other words, we either willfully cheated or unintentionally broke a rule. Regardless of why it happens, the results are the same, we become disqualified to compete for the prize. This is what Paul was talking about in verse 27. He practiced self-discipline so that his lifestyle would not disqualify him from competing for the prize in his race. Remember, disqualification is not based on skill or ability! It’s based entirely on an athlete willingness to follow the rules!!! If we’re in this Christian race and our jobs are to win souls for Christ, it literally means that we become unfit (disqualified) to do that if our lifestyles contradict our testimony. Now what is interesting is that this is something that most Christians and sinners know without really thinking about it. Consider the following statements that we make which means the same things as being disqualified: