'We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.
We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Hebrews 6:11-12, NIV).
The 2006 NBA Championship was a big deal in North Texas. Fans were either frustrated or elated by the outcome, depending on their loyalties. It was a hard fight, but at the last whistle the Dallas Mavericks came up short and did not win the trophy.
I wonder, does that makes them 'losers”? I suppose it's all in the way you look at it. If one concentrates solely on the trophy contest at the end of the season, one could label them as 'losers.” A broader look at the season as a whole, however, might result in a different opinion.
Out of the 113 games that the Mavericks played in the 2005-06 season, they came out ahead in 80 games. That's a success rate of over 70 percent! They were one of only two teams that made it to the championship. Overall, that's not too bad.
In the seasons of our lives, we will struggle to overcome the challenges that face us, and we will rack up both wins and losses. We will be called upon to persevere through minor setbacks, as well as the heart-wrenching tragedies. Some wins will be overwhelming victories, and some will be 'squeakers.”
When we fall into the trap of judging our worth by our most recent performance, we end up on a nerve-racking rollercoaster of emotion, carrying us from the heights of elation to the depths of depression.
We are never sure how we stand with God or our peers or even with ourselves. Ultimately, that depth of despair can freeze us into inaction, beginning a downward spiral that leads us to greater defeat.
The wise approach is to take the 'long view.” In the journey of life are we, by and large, making progress? Are we leaving the individual defeats in the past and moving on to increasing victory? When we see the significance of our life in the overall journey we can look at our defeats, not as life-defining events, but as opportunities to learn and to grow. We can turn our defeats into stepping-stones to victory.
Did you forget or neglect to spend time in God's Word yesterday? Then take extra care to make sure that you read it today! Was your Christian behavior less than exemplary last week? Then determine, this week, to do better! Sinful habits that have been engrained in us since childhood and iniquities we were born with will not be replaced overnight. It will be a slow process and, at times, an uphill battle.
The key is to keep fighting! The loser is not the one who falls twice or one hundred times. The loser is the one who stops getting back up. The victory does not go to the fellow who hits the hardest. It goes to the fighter who keeps returning to fight back.
In our battle to become more Christlike, the reward for success is a fulfilling life of doing the things that God has created us to do and sharing His goodness with our families and friends.
The price of failure is pain and heartbreak for us and for those we love. Are we determined to squeeze out of life all that God has intended for us? Are you committed for the long haul?
Don't lose hope, and don't lose focus. When you find yourself in the dust, get up and go on. In the end, the trophy goes to the one who perseveres.
'Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12, NIV).