[A stern warning I took to heart this morning while reading – RAS]
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win. (25) Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one. (26) So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. (27) Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be reprobate.
John Chrysostom (c. 347–407), Homily XXII on Genesis
“If Paul, a man of such caliber and stature, who traversed the whole world as it were on wings, and became superior to corporeal needs, and was thought worthy to hear those “unspeakable words” which no other man has heard up to this day, could write, “I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a reprobate ** ;” (1 Cor 9:27) if, I say, he, who was deemed worthy of so much grace, after so many and such eminent good works needed to keep under and subjugate the unruliness of the body, and subject it to the authority of the soul, and to the excellence of the soul thereof (for a man keeps under what rises up against him, and brings into subjection what is restive), what must we say, about us who are devoid of all virtues, who are burdened with a load of sins, and, in addition, exhibit a great degree of indolence? For does this war admit of any truce? It has no fixed time for the assault, does it? We must be always wakeful and on the look-out, and never deem ourselves secure; for there is no set time for the assault of him who is at war with us, filled with hostilities, and is ready to attack us. Let us therefore be always thoughtful, always anxious about our salvation; that so we too ourselves may be able to remain unconquered, and, having escaped the devices framed by the enemy, be counted worthy of the loving-kindness coming from God, through the grace and compassions of His Only-begotten Son.”
**[grk. αδοκιμοσ reprobate, castaway, rejected, not genuine, useless – applying to persons – see also Rom 1:28 ; 2 Cor 13:5-7 ; 2 Tim 3:8 ; Titus 1:16 ; Heb 6:8]
2Co 13:5-7 Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you — unless, indeed, you fail the test! (6) And I hope that you will realize that we have not failed the test! (7) Now we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong, not so that we may appear to have passed the test, but so that you may do what is right even if we may appear to have failed the test.