Are You Fighting the Right Battles?

Matthew 26:52  “Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. 

I love the Bible stories of Peter.  We can look at the story of him attempting to walk on water (Matthew 14) as a demonstration of little faith (as Jesus said to him: “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt”, vs. 31), but I also see him as the only guy willing to try.  Once again, in Matthew 16, Peter steps out and rebukes Jesus for saying that he will suffer persecution and die: “Never, Lord. This shall never happen to you” (vs. 22).  Poor Peter gets put back in his place by Jesus: “get behind me Satan” (vs.23); wow, none too subtle.  I’m sure some of the other disciples were thinking the same thing, but once again it was Peter acting on it.

During the Last Supper (Matthew 26) Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times.  Peter was hurt and says, “even if all fall away, I will remain” (vs 33).  And Peter had his chance to prove it the Garden of Gethsemane.  Judas Iscariot and a mob come with swords and clubs and what does Peter do? He draws his sword and lops off the ear of the servant of the high priest (vs. 51) and he would have certainly fought to the death to protect Jesus.  And Peter’s reward for putting his life on the line for a friend? “Put your sword back in its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.” (vs. 52).  Reprimanded again!

Peter has the stuff of Hollywood heroes – righteous indignation, courage.  He rights wrongs and fights battles no one else is willing to fight.  So, why does he consistently get rebuked? Peter was fighting battles that Jesus did not ask him to fight and battling with his own human understanding and abilities.  Later in Matthew 26 Peter learned his error in the most powerful way.  Finally, there was a battle that Jesus wanted him to fight, one which only required him to acknowledge Jesus.  The great irony is that the powerful warrior, willing to stand up to clubs and swords, was unable to stand up to two girls and a few guys.  Three times he denied his friend.  When he realized what he had done, “he went outside and wept bitterly” (vs. 75).

In my opinion, athletes are the modern-day warrior.  The pitch, the field, the ice is often described as the battle zone.  Athletes will push their physical and mental limits to win the battle.  As a Christian Athlete, it is good to recognize this trait in yourself.  It is a positive one, but like Peter, we can use it to fight the wrong battles.  I am constantly amazed to see strong Christian men and women roll over like wimps when they need to fight.  They would literally fight to the bitter end if anyone tried to physically harm their spouse or children, but they are unwilling to lay down their life by swallowing their pride and fighting for a disintegrating marriage.  They roll over and say: “We’ve just grown out of love”.  They are unwilling to fight for their children who are being lost to the world of lust and addictions.  They are unwilling to fight their own battles of purity.

It is time for Christian Athletes to unleash the warrior inside of them to fight God’s battles.  It is time we fight for the family, and fight against our own sinful nature. Ephesians 6:12 says For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”   If you are married, fight for your spouse.  If you have children fight for them.  If you are young and single, fight for your purity so that when you do lead a family you will not be disqualified from the battle.  Harness the inner warrior to fight God’s battles not yours.

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