Isn’t it obvious that all runners on the racetrack keep on running to win, but only one receives the victor’s prize? Yet each one of you must run the race to be victorious. A true athlete will be disciplined in every respect, practicing constant self-control in order to win a laurel wreath that quickly withers. But we run our race to win a victor’s crown that will last forever. 1 Corinthians 9:24-25
I need to be careful.
It is possible when writing about self-control, to sound like an incoherent prophet dissing fun and good times. The Gospel is good news, but it starts by recognizing some bad news.
The philosophy of Thank God It’s Friday (TGIF) has become an international philosophy of having a good time after a difficult week. There are versions of Thank God It’s Friday in many different languages. It’s a by-product of modern culture, as I imagine before the Industrial Age, our work week, the bars with happy hour, and office cubicles (now replaced by home cubicles) didn’t exist.
Thus, eliminating the need for TGIF.
Life was so difficult pre-1900 that citizens of the earth had a philosophy of TGIS, TGIM, TGIT, TGIW, TCIT, TGIF, and TGIS. They were thankful to be alive, with family, and have food every day of the week.
I looked up the origins of TGIF. While some think it all began with the restaurant TGI Friday’s – nope – it all began in Ohio!
The earliest printed usage of the phrase is used in connection with The Ohio State University. It was reported in a newspaper in 1941 describing a club of students with the motto Thank God It’s Friday! The TGIF slogan came from classrooms, lengthy term papers, and whether the Buckeyes won football games.
Living in the shadow of the Buckeye football stadium – my entire week is filled with thanks or frustration depending on a football win or loss.
Hopefully, this year, TGIF with Michigan.
Back to self-control.
There is nothing wrong with celebrating or having a good time. The problem begins when TGIF becomes daily life. Even worse is when our expectation of life is TGIF – or only what makes us happy should be pursued or tolerated.
I recently heard a TGIFer say, “Livin’ the dream!” I wondered what the dream would look like in 40 years.
Age accumulates. Anger, wealth, poverty, children, bitterness, peace, sleep – everything accelerates – sometimes to blessing but also to depression. Self-control separates the two. Learning to see the eternal and live according to the final prize gives life now.
Living life now and forgetting eternity means losing both.
Is it okay that I pray for The Ohio State University football team to win their game tomorrow?