Day 8

 Taking the Long Look 

In an address to the 1984 United States Olympic Team, President Ronald Reagan made this comment: “You above all people know that it is not just the will to win that counts, but the will to prepare to win.” Wherever there’s the potential for great gain, there’s usually the necessity for equal or greater sacrifice. Those who’ve excelled in their professions understand the relationship between accomplishment and sacrifice. Many believers are unaware of the fact that this same principle applies in the spiritual realm as well.

Jesus chose to communicate this important truth in a parable. Two men decided to build houses. One decided to take the easy way. He built his house on a river bank where the foundation would be easy to put in and materials were readily available. The other man chose the difficult task of hauling all of his building supplies to the top of a nearby mountain. Once there, it took him days just to put in a foundation.

From the outset of the parable, Jesus makes it clear who these two men represent. The first man represents that group of people who find the teachings of Christ too restrictive, too difficult to obey. The other builder represents those who are willing to pay the price of obedience. They are the few who are willing to put into “practice” what Jesus taught.

For a while it looked as if the man on the mountain had worked extra hard for nothing. But then the clouds began to gather. And soon the wind began to blow. Before long, both houses were being battered by a great storm. It was then that the man on the mountain began to fully enjoy the benefits of his hard labor. At the same time, his friend down below was probably thinking, “If only I had …” but it was too late. And so it goes with those who can’t bring themselves to pay the price of obedience to Christ.

For many, freedom from sin involves pausing long enough to take the long look. What is it about Christ’s teachings that you find too difficult to practice? No doubt you have the will to endure the storms of life. But willpower isn’t enough. The real issue is, do you have the will to prepare for life’s storms? Jesus was clear: Obedience now ensures endurance and freedom later.

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