Pete was seven years old when his dad sat him down for a talk.
"Pete," he said, "if you'll listen to me, if you'll let me teach you the game of basketball, you may be able to get a scholarship someday. If you get a scholarship, you'll be able to get an education. Not only that," his dad continued, "if you're good enough, if you'll listen to me and work and commit yourself to basketball, maybe you'll end up on the pro level. Maybe you could play in the NBA. And Pete, if you play in the NBA, they'll pay you to play basketball."
At that time-at the age of seven-Pete had already been playing basketball for three years. But from that moment on, he became serious about the game. He played six to ten hours a day during the summertime. When everyone else was out playing or swimming with friends, Pete was in the gym, shooting baskets by himself. He would get up every morning and jog two miles into Clemson, South Carolina, dribbling a basketball beside him as he ran. At seven o'clock that evening, he'd dribble the basketball all the way home. When he got his first bicycle, he learned how to dribble the ball beside the bike as he rode.
As a result of those years of self-control and dedication, "Pistol" Pete Maravich got a scholarship to college. He became the all-time leading scorer in the history of college basketball, setting sixty records in the NCAA. He also became one of the greatest pro basketball players of all time, a five-time NBA all-star who was elected to the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987.
Now, not everyone can be a Pete Maravich. But you don't have to be Pete Maravich to discover that self-control has a lot of benefits. It can make you a better athlete. It can make you a better student. It can make you a better listener, a better painter, a better saxophone player. It can make you a better friend. It can make you a better person.
Self-control won't save you from sin; only Jesus can do that. It won't get you to heaven; only Jesus can do that. But learning to be self-controlled can help you to resist temptation. It can help you to make right choices. And that can win for you a prize that will never fade away.
REFLECT: In today's Bible reading, Paul mentions two kinds of prizes people might get when they exercise self-control. What are they? Is one bad and the other good? Or is one good and the other better? Have you enjoyed any benefits of self-control in your life? If so, what benefits have you received?
PRAY: "Jesus, thank you for your power in my life. Thank you for helping me to become more self-controlled as I trust in you."