Read: Romans 6:15-18
When he was only seven years old, Michael Phelps had already devoted his life to swimming. By age eight, he was dreaming of the Olympics, and, by age eleven, Phelps’ potential caught the eye of an experienced coach who invested in him. Just four years later, Phelps swam at age fifteen in the Olympics held in Sydney, Australia. He didn’t win any medals in Sydney, but he won 28 medals (23 being gold) in his next four Olympic appearances in Athens, Beijing, London, and Rio de Janeiro. He currently is the most decorated Olympian in the entire world.
Such success comes from a lifestyle captivated by training and goal setting. As a teenager, Phelps once maintained a five-year streak of daily training . . . with no breaks for holidays. Phelps’ coach explained that by training on Sundays, Phelps would gain an advantage of fifty days each year over his competitors. He had to eat eight thousand calories a day to fuel his training routine. When out of the pool, Phelps would visualize himself swimming races, thinking through possible outcomes. Phelps lived totally committed to his sport, and Olympic success drove all his daily actions. He is an example of what it means for someone to dedicate their lives to something.
We may not be Olympic contenders, but the Bible directs us to live as people fully dedicated to God. Romans 6:15-18 is pretty extreme, saying we must become “slaves to righteousness.” We are called to be completely mastered by God’s righteousness. We are to change every aspect of our life to our Master’s. Earlier this week, we learned how sin wants to enslave us for our destruction. In today’s passage, we see how Paul says we are set free from this and can become slaves of a much better master.
Paul does say that we have a choice. Verse 16 says we become slaves to whatever we offer ourselves. We can run headlong into obeying sin, or we can submit our mind, body, and soul to righteousness. He says that at one time we all lived as slaves to sin, unable to truly live. But God sets us free from that and gives us the power to live as obedient people, slaves to His benevolent desire. The kind of slavery God is talking about is not oppressive and does not destroy our identities. God wants us to relinquish the control of our lives to His loving and powerful hands. He wants to dictate to us what to do, for His glory, for our personal benefit, and for our world’s restoration.
Imagine what God might do to further His kingdom here on earth with people completely obedient to Him. What if we all were dedicated to God in the same way that Michael Phelps is to swimming? What if our minds, bodies, and souls were all focused on glorifying God with our time, passions, creativity, resources, and relationships? Sure, Phelps has 28 Olympic medals to his name, but God can build eternal benefits through you when you allow yourself to become a slave to righteousness.
Pray that God will reveal one area of your life that you can begin to relinquish to Him in order to allow His righteousness to control your life. Ask God to change your old habits. For example, you could use your creative ability to make something to share God’s love with others or consider whether you can use your time to serve others instead of seeking entertainment. Maybe He will lead you to continue developing a skill you already have. How can you be an instrument of righteousness?