Toughness Trivia 9 - What are You Trying to Prove?

Romans 12:1-2

The world is full of people preoccupied with proving. Perhaps you'll recognize a few of the following:

1.    The NAME DROPPER ... that he is somebody because he knows somebody!

2.    The FASHION FOLLOWER ... that he's a round peg in a round hole.

3.    The LADDER CLIMBER ... that the top is where its at.

4.    The WIG WEARER ... that it isn't so.

5.    The DIPLOMA FRAMER ... that his academic accomplishments qualify him.

6.    The NIT PICKER ... that it isn't exactly the way you're telling it.

As a child of God and citizen of His kingdom, what are you trying to prove? Are you trying to prove the very things the world tries to prove? For instance:

Are you trying to prove that you can still do it?

I tried it once ... a long time ago in Africa.

My friends know that I like to pit my mind and my strength against others. Recently, it has been more mind than strength. But in those days, it was strength, I could run with the best of them ... or so I thought.

There was a sports day in Malawi. The Lilongwe school, where our kids attended, was competing against the Mkhoma school. .. and our kids were doing great. All three had excelled in their events. And why not? They were the Williams' kids, weren't they?

Then I heard an announcement over the loud speakers. There was to be a father's race. A father's race? "That's me," I thought, "I'm a father!" So, I trotted over to the starting line ... forgetting that I hadn't run a race in years and that quite a bit of the spring had gone out of my legs. I noted that my competitors were much younger than I... rugby players from Stellenbosch University in South Africa. They looked lean and fast.

"No matter," I reasoned, "I'll outsmart them. I'll take off a split second ahead of the gun, and they'll never catch me." So we got down on our marks ... we got set... and then, just before the gun went off... I went off. I heard it crack as I took my first step ... and I ran ... you can't believe how I ran! I could hear the crowd cheering. I watched out of the comer of my eye for someone passing. No one was passing. I thought "It's working ... I can still do it... I'm going to win!" Talk about exhilaration! Talk about an ego booster! I was proving to all that Williams could still do it!

Then, as I charged the finish line, I looked up ... and to my dismay I saw a man ... waving me back! It had been a false start. I had run the hundred yards all alone!

My kids were mortified. My wife was amused. My legs were rubber. And the crowd loved it! The only thing I proved that day was that old men fool themselves when they think they can still do it!

When I was in Brussels last week, I talked to a beautiful woman whose husband had left her after twenty years of marriage. He was forty years old when he told her that he wanted his freedom. Evidently he had some doubts about his manhood or his attractiveness to women ... you never know what motivates men like that. But it was obvious that he had something to prove to himself, because, while there was no other woman at the time, he soon married. Whether he proved his manhood or not, I wouldn't know. He certainly proved how fickle and self-serving a man can be.

I know people accused of wrongdoing who spend the rest of their lives trying to prove that they were right. It's amazing! People whose performance has been anything but great become regular zealots when they feel they've been wronged. While they rock along with minimum effort when working for God, they will endeavor to move heaven and earth in order to clear their name. Proving that they were right becomes an all-consuming passion!

I'm convinced that some people are out to prove that God is a materialist.

To justify their lifestyle, they try to prove that God likes what they like!

I heard a prominent TV host quote the Scripture that says, "He became poor that we might become rich."

He said to his colleague on the program. "Was the poverty of Jesus spiritual poverty?"

"Oh, no," was the reply, "it couldn't have been spiritual poverty."

"Well, then," said the host, "was it poverty of character?"

"Never," replied the other.

"Then what kind of poverty was it?"

To which his colleague replied, "It had to be material poverty ... He became poor that we might become rich." Then they both exulted in the thought that Christ's poverty made possible material prosperity.

What a shame! What a twisting of God's Word! They were determined to prove what they wanted to believe. They were creating God in their own image. But they only succeeded in proving that the time has come when men will not endure sound doctrine but, after their own lusts, are heaping to themselves teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. May God help us Pentecostals! What are we trying to prove?

I identify with the non-conformist.

I don't want the world to squeeze me into its mold. I admire the man who has the courage to be different.

But being different is sometimes a way of getting attention. I suspect that that is why we have men with ponytails and women with outlandish outfits. My own attention getter is balloon blowing. My missionary kids really like the animals I make, and it sure gets the attention of the parents. But non-conformity as an end in itself is childish and a bit ridiculous. What are we trying to prove?

It gets really scary when, in an attempt to establish our right to do our own thing, we violate the Scriptures. Our liberationists have made a god of the right of the individual ... to the extent that they ride roughshod over the rights of others ... and over Kingdom principles.

For instance: The Bible teaches that we are not to please ourselves but are to please our neighbor for his good to edification. But are we trying to prove that Paul was right? Far from it! We say, "Love yourself... because you can't love your neighbor unless you first love yourself." Hogwash! What we really are trying to prove is that God condones our self-serving. We could care less about our neighbor when we think of ourselves first.

What, then, should we be trying to prove?

Romans 12:2 tells us we should be trying to prove the good and acceptable and perfect will of God. And what is that good and acceptable and perfect will? It is twofold.

1.    It is God's will that all should be saved.

2.    It is God's will that believers be like Christ.

There are four billion people in the world ... and the number is rapidly increasing. Relatively few of them are saved. It is God's will that I go into all the world and preach the gospel.

As believers, most of us are far from what God wants us to be. It is God's will that I become like Christ.

So God wants me to prove His will by "going" and by "being."

Romans 12:1 gives us the formula for proving. It says we are to prove by presenting.

We are to present our bodies ... like Old Testament sacrifices ... bodies that are holy and acceptable. But that's where the similarity stops. Living sacrifices are unlike Old Testament sacrifices. Old Testament sacrifices were dead sacrifices. Ours is to be a living sacrifice! Dead sacrifices are "one time only" sacrifices. You can't offer a dead lamb again and again.

Not so living sacrifices. Living sacrifices are daily sacrifices. You sacrifice your body today only to face self-sacrifice tomorrow. That's what makes proving the will of God a lifelong pursuit. That's why it's so necessary to lay my life on the altar every morning and say, "Once again, Lord, here is my life ... it is yours to command."

We cannot prove the will of God if we are not willing to be a daily sacrifice. Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." That is the Great Commission, and that is the will of God. And I can tell you this ... doing the will of God takes some doing! In fact, it cannot be done without self-denial and sacrifice.

You see, you can't do your own thing and do God's thing at the same time unless, of course, you make God's thing your thing.

You can't make "getting" your goal and at the same time do the will of God unless your "getting" becomes a means of "giving" ... in which case "giving" rather than "getting" would be your goal.

You can't spend your life trying to prove you were right and at the same time prove what the will of God is.

Jesus got God's will done because He never attempted to prove his own rights.

You can't spend your time thinking about health and hormones and at the same time lay your body on the altar to be used and abused in the cause of Christ. Proving the will of God by obedience to the Great Commission has a way of putting wear and tear on beautiful bodies!

And what is true about the Great Commission is also true about being conformed to the image of Christ. Both are God's will, and both require self-denial and sacrifice.

The good and acceptable and perfect will of God is proven by presenting ourselves "unto God" rather than "unto the world." We are not to be conformed to the world, but rather we are to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. We become what we present ourselves to.

This season, I'll confess, I've become a football addict... because I am presenting myself to the tube every weekend. But I'm not fooling myself. I don't become like Christ by watching football... though I certainly hope I don't become unlike Christ when my Minnesota Vikings lose.

But I have to ask myself the question ... does being a football addict in any way prevent me from proving the will of God? Am I less Christlike for having watched the games? Right now my conscience tells me that there is no adverse effect upon my pursuit of Christlikeness. However, this I know ... I am not being transformed ... my mind is not being spiritually renewed when I watch football.

Therefore, I must take the time to present myself to the things that will transform my mind ... to the Word of God which tells me what the will of God is ... to the Spirit of God who prays for me according to the will of God ... to the fellowship of believers who are committed to the will of God ... and to God himself, so that He can talk to me about His plan and purpose.

What am I trying to prove?

I'm trying to prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

I'm trying to prove that God wants all men to be saved.

I'm trying to prove that a believer can be Christlike.

And the only way that I can PROVE it is to PRESENT myself unto God ... a living sacrifice ... on the altar of self-denial every day.

That's reasonable, isn't it?