Looking back over my Little League career, some of the most disappointing moments were in dressing for a game, showing up at the field, only to have the game forfeited for lack of players. One team lost their right to play and thus the other team was awarded a victory. Regardless of which team gained in the standings, the enjoyment was in the playing and that was lost.
Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me. Whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self? (Luke 9:23-25)
Raising the stakes just a bit, consider the implications of forfeiting your very life!
Jesus contrasted gaining the whole world with losing, or forfeiting, your whole life. There appears to be no middle ground; to gain the one involves losing the other. Without a full investment of all the players the team cannot be represented. It’s either a W or a L on the score sheet.
To paraphrase it another way, taking up the Cross of Christ, dedicating one’s life to serve Him first, is the winning choice – the way to save one’s life. On the other hand, deciding to not follow Christ as the Lord of your life is the losing proposition. The whole world won’t count for much when the whole world as we know it has passed away.
In reality, the fullest enjoyment of this world we live in, is found when we live in surrender to its’ Creator. He is the ultimate Designer of life. I am continually challenged by the fact that His ways are higher than mine; His perspective clearer than mine. In contrast, my own desires and motives are changeable and unreliable. I need a plumb line by which to measure the best way to live.
Without purification my desires and cravings lean towards the dark side. The Book of James strikes right to the heart in addressing wrong motives and being ruled by inferior pleasures.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? (James 4:4-5)
“Spiritual adultery” is a tough exhortation to swallow; one must be tenderized by the Cross to receive it.
You’re cheating on God. If all you want is your own way, flirting with the world every chance you get, you end up enemies of God and his way. And do you suppose God doesn’t care? The proverb has it that “he’s a fiercely jealous lover.” And what he gives in love is far better than anything else you’ll find. It’s common knowledge that “God goes against the willful proud; God gives grace to the willing humble.” (The Message)
One marker by which to identify humility: Have you ever repented of spiritual adultery?
It’s a common transgression for everyone. He “watches over us with tender jealousy.” (Living Bible) The intensity of God’s vigilance over my life is a safeguard I never want to lose.
Self managed, it becomes legalism and condemnation. Holy Spirit managed, it’s the holiness we were born again to manifest and a privilege we must never forfeit.