Tuesday, February 23, 2010


Awhile ago, I started noticing that when someone wins or loses in a competition of any kind, it doesn't necessarily have the effect on their feelings that one would expect. I was also wondering about what the best attitude to compete with is, because it obviously makes a big difference what your perspective is.

There's a verse in the Bible in which Jesus asks what it would profit a man to gain the whole world, but to lose his soul (Mark 8:36). There are a lot of verses in the Bible that make it sound like "winning" in the world's eyes, having worldly success, and "winning" in God's eyes, becoming one of those people to whom He will say, "Well done, good and faithful servant," (Matthew 25:21) are two very different things (Matthew 20:26, 20:16, etc.).

Several years ago, when I was in my most angst-ridden teenaged year, I did a drawing in which I wrote in the margins something to the effect of: What does it profit to lose the world and gain your soul? This wasn't a rebellious query; I was struggling with questions about what it meant to be a believer. Did one have to lose the world in order to keep one's soul? Did I have to be miserable in this life in order to go to heaven in the next?

Now, I see it a little bit differently. Yes, in a way I think I was right. There is a lot of worldly sacrifice involved in the Christian life, and we as Christians do indeed have to "lose the world," if by that we mean "surrender ourselves and our world to the greater cause of God and His glory," but I don't think that the Christian life need continually be one of worldly loss, lack, and misery. Matthew 6:33 says that if we "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness" then we will have the worldly things that we need. Jesus said that He came so that we might have abundant life, and I think that is something we can have here as well as in heaven.

I guess a lot of our happiness is based on our attitudes and what we're choosing to focus on. Waiting for circumstances to change before we can be happy doesn't work, because then we're basing our happiness on circumstances (such as winning a competition, getting a good grade, getting a boyfriend or girlfriend). If we base our expectations on our circumstances, we'll always be disappointed. Circumstances change, aren't necessarily what we're hoping for, and even if they're great, don't give us the stability and joy that we really want. Only God can do that. Only God is a rock to stand on; God is the only thing we can stand on that comes with a true guarantee that it will not fail.

In other words, I don't necessarily need to give up everything, and I don't need to give up all hope of getting certain things that I want, but I need to be willing to give up everything but God. I need to seek Him before all else. I'm still trying to figure out what that means.

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