Friday, June 26, 2020

Close Enough Is Only Good For Horse Shoes and Hand Grenades

“ Then one of them, a lawyer, asked Him a question, testing Him, and saying, ‘Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.’” – Matthew 22:36-37

Ever played horse shoes? You get one point for being close to the stake, two points for a "leaner", the shoe leaning against the stake and three points for a ringer. With hand grenade - say an M-26 fragmentation grenade - the effective bursting radius is 3 meters. If you within 9 feet when it explodes, you are going to get hurt.  That is what is meant by close enough.

Looking at my own life, I see a constant struggle in my heart with being Close Enough.  The struggle is doing what Jesus said to do. Love God with “all”.  It is so much easier to love God with “some” There are so many things that vie for a place in my heart. Most of them not inherently bad but things that would nudge God out of His rightful place. Righteousness as defined by me.  So long as I am willing to embrace my old nature – those things that would demand my devotion and trust – I am settling for a new life that is Close Enough. I may even prefer that others ignore that and consider me to have “arrived” spiritually, when I have not.

I can compare my new ways – caused by my conversion or by my own will – to my old life and think – “you’ve come a long way baby!” Perhaps even find a reason for personal pride instead of giving the glory to God. If I should want to compare myself to other men, I might be tempted to be impressed with myself. Others might and do praise me for what I have accomplished. But man’s praise can prove to be lethal to a right heart before God.  It can whittle away at your devotion to God and you can begin to think too highly of yourself. I have known people that crave words of affirmation from others.  I watch their expressions when they are praised by others. There is nothing wrong with recognition. But there is something that is spiritually deadly when we need men’s praise to have a feeling of worth.  Each person is so important to God that He sent Jesus to die for them.

“… they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” – John 12:43

Every Christian is far from perfect in their flesh, but stand perfected spiritually before God, the Father because of Jesus.  The organization I work with, Houston Responds, has a campaign called “Far From Finished.” It has to do with encouraging the local churches to help the thousands of families that still struggle with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey and Tropical Storm Imelda. But I think that “Far From Finished” is an appropriate description of where all of are in our faith walk and sanctification as well – the process of being conformed to the image of Christ.

Don’t be satisfied with Close Enough.  So many are.  They are satisfied with being saved and sitting in the “cheap seats” in heaven, but God intends for you to be sitting in the best seats. It all depends upon you.  If your spiritual life seems to have run out of gas (or oil) then it is not because God has forgotten about you.  It is because you have chosen to embrace the world. You have decided that Close Enough is Good Enough.  I can encourage you to press on but you have to decide to take the next step and not be satisfied with Close Enough.

By Faith Alone By His Grace Alone And For His Glory Alone

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