This morning, we learned that the Jackie Robinson West Little League Chapmpions from Chicago, just had their title stripped from them.  A team that was lauded by the Second City and the rest of the nation were now deemed unworthy to hold the title because they broke the rules.  While being honored as a team that was taught hard work, teamwork and strong values, the leaders were breaking the rules by playing kids that lived outside the district boundaries.

We also heard that NBC has just suspended Brian Williams for six months without pay.  He was presented to us as the man who told us the truth night after night.  It was this professional and uncompromising image that made him so funny when he acted out of character with Jimmy Fallon.  Why was he suspended?  Because he refused to let the truth get in the way of a good story.  Simply put, he lied.  He fabricated and exaggerated stories.  And while the jury’s still out, it seems he did it on more than one occasion.

How do people get into these kinds of trouble?  The Bible says, it’s the flesh.  The flesh throws caution to the wind in order to win, or to validate oneself in the eyes of others.  In the moment, we think that winning is all that matters.  Then we find out that winning outside the rules isn’t winning, it’s ruinous.

Paul was concerned with this in his own life.  He expresssed his heart in 1 Corinthians 9:27 “But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.”  This disqualification may not keep us out of heaven.  But it does undercut our influence and weakens the gospel.  How do we Christians disqualify ourselves?

1. We live hypocritically.  We refuse to display the holiness of God.
2. We live without love for other believers.  We don’t offer grace to one another. We weaken the witness of Christ’s body.
3. We live with a judgmental spirit toward our neighbor.  We think of others as “lesser than,” rather than seeing the image of God in them. We limit the impact of grace on others.
4. We live without concern for God-given priorities of spouse and family. We make excuses to live outside of God’s order. In this we chip away at the greatest metaphor God has given to display his love for his people.
5. We live with the drive for self-fulfilment rather than the glory of God. We listen to the flesh and we quench the life-giving Holy Spirit.

Ultimately, disqualification happens when we don’t practice what we preach!  We need to take gospel transformation seriously.  We need to discipline our passions, desires and actions in order to walk the path.  And when we fail, we cannot claim it was a “mistake, an oversight, or a misstatement.”  But we must honestly say, “God calls this sin, and so do I.  I depend on his grace and I hope for your forgiveness.”

Like Paul, I have to do character “double-checks.”  I have to be honest before God and others, so I don’t get to the end of my life thinking that I won and realize I’ve disqualified myself from the reward God had planned for me.

Should you discipline yourself in a new way today? What has the greatest potential to disqualify you?
How do you react when someone else disqualifies themselves?
Can someone come back?
How do you understand the importance of alignment between our life and our message?