For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Luke 14:28
Defining victory is the key to success. As the clearest example think of the two Gulf Wars and the two George Bush presidencies. During the first encounter with Iraq our nation was given a straightforward goal: Get Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait – it lasted six months. Saddam Hussein left Kuwait permanently and the Kuwaiti people became our friends. The second Gulf war had a the fuzzy goal of nation rebuilding and has now dragged on through decades with questionable results. The current protests about racism police violence and the terrible murder of an innocent Black man in Minnesota ; sadly appear to be crossing the frontier between those two wars.
While Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil rights movement of the 60’s succeeded in attaining the voting rights act of 1964 – today’s protesters may not accomplish anything if they have no clear practical goal. Sadly racism will be with us along with all the other sins and failings of the human experience until the return of Jesus. Violence and destruction is unlikely to change a single heart.
But rather than giving up in frustration; we could redefine our victory one heart, one family and one neighborhood at a time. Jesus said that before we set out to do anything for God, we must count the cost to us personally. So instead of expecting victory because of what someone else should pay: why not bow in prayer tonight and ask God what we could accomplish in breaking through barriers of racial hatred by something that we are willing to sacrifice?
For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Mark 8:36
I have been struggling lately with the seemingly unending crisis with the Corona virus and the impending collapse of our economy. Added to the mix this week has been the horrible murder of a helpless man by the police in Minnesota. All of these bring into focus not only the loss of the many but also the value of even one single life. But when it feels like there are no human answers, God sometimes sends encouragement by His most unlikely messengers. I thought of the morning a few winters back when I stopped to clear the walkways at our church after a heavy snow. As I pulled into the parking lot I was surprised to see a squirrel sitting on the railing by the side door happily eating a roll left over from our missions banquet. I wondered if maybe his provisions of nuts were exhausted. I thought about how his plans for survival seemed slim compared to the harshness of winter. But he wasn’t at all worried that morning. As he shook his tail and ran off I realized that He seemed to know better than me, that God would take care of him!
So if God watches out for a hungry squirrel, imagine how He cares for us. Jesus tells us that the value of a one single soul is more than everything in the world. One life weighs more on God’s scales than all the earth’s riches, natural wonders, and amazing creatures. For one single life, Jesus paid with the price of His precious blood. God remembers. God cares. God alone sets the value of every single human soul!
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Romans 12:3
As a teen-ager I lived on a small farm for about two years. Every day I had pigs to slop, cows to milk, chickens to feed and even a couple of goats to tend. But of all the animals we had on the farm the ones I liked the least were the geese. Yes some mornings the cow could be ill- tempered, the pigs were smelly, and the chickens needed constant protection from the local raccoon but the annoying thing about geese is how they acted like they were better than any of the other animals on the farm.
Whenever I approached to feed them they would stick out their necks and hiss and flap their wings in a phony show of courage. But if I took a few steps toward them, they would turn tail and run as fast as their clumsy webbed feet could carry them. No matter how much they hissed, flapped or ran they never really convinced anyone of their importance. In fact one of my favorite things on the fourth of July was to shoot bottle rockets close to those geese and then laugh uproariously as they hissed and honked – (Remember I was a teen-ager!)
But before feeling so smug about how foolish those geese were I need to ask myself about the times when to God I must have looked a lot like those geese. He sees me put on a great show of bravery and self-importance for my family, neighbors, or church; but when faced with real danger I have often run for the hills. How amazing that God still loves me and doesn’t treat me like I sometimes treated our poor silly geese. Instead He gently corrects me and tells me to remember that my importance isn’t about being better than others. No one is better than anyone else in God’s family. We are all loved and are each given a different job to do. So let’s not act like silly geese. Yes, God has made us special – but not better than anyone else on the farm!