Three Types of Victory in Your Life
Three Types of Victory in Your Life
José Henriquez was one of the thirty-three miners trapped 2,300 feet underground when a section of the San José copper mine in Northern Chile collapsed. It was 5 August 2010. For seventeen days all rescue attempts failed. There was no sign of life in the copper mine. The trapped miners had enough food for three days and a little drinking water. They faced the prospect of an agonising death through starvation.
I interviewed José Henriquez and his wife Bianca at HTB. He told how they had prayed to God for a miracle. He described the moment, on 22 August, when a drill broke through into the tunnel where the men were trapped. They hammered the drill with iron rods. They sprayed paint on it. They sent up many messages on it. Only one stayed on the drill as it went back up to the surface. The message read, ‘We’re fine. The 33 in the shelter.’
In total, the men survived a record sixty-nine days underground before they were brought to the surface. More than a billion people watched the rescue live on television. There were extraordinary scenes as everyone celebrated a wonderful victory.
The life of faith is full of challenges, difficulties and trials. But there are also times of victory. In the passages for today we see three different types of victory.
1. Victory over your enemiesPsalm 18:16-24
David faced many battles in life. He was surrounded by enemies. They were ‘too strong’ for him (v.17b). However, they are not too strong for God. God rescued him from those that were too strong for him and brought him into a ‘spacious place’ (v.19). ‘I stood there saved – surprised to be loved!’ (v.19b, MSG).
If you are in a ‘spacious place’ at the moment, remember to thank God for it. If not, cry out to God to rescue you. And if any of your family or friends are struggling at the moment, pray that God will bring them too into a ‘spacious place’.
Lord, thank you for the times when you brought me out into a spacious place. Today I pray for…
2. Victory over your criticsMatthew 22:15-46
Jesus’ opponents interrogate him with three questions: a trap, a trick and a test (vv.17,23,35). Each time, he is victorious and gives an answer that not only amazes (v.22) and astonishes (v.33), but also influences the whole of human history. What can we learn from Jesus’ answers?
Don’t divide your life into sacred and secular
The Pharisees planned to trap Jesus with his words. They said to Jesus, ‘Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?’ (v.17). The taxes they referred to were extremely unpopular. If Jesus had said ‘Yes’, he would have been discredited in the eyes of the people. Everyone would have hated him and seen him as a traitor wanting to help the Romans.
Yet if he had said, ‘No’, he would have been guilty of sedition and been liable to arrest and execution.
Jesus, in his unique wisdom, did not lay down rules and regulations but expounded principles that are timeless. He gives an amazing answer: ‘Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s’ (v.21).
Every follower of Jesus has a double citizenship. You have a responsibility to play your part as a good citizen involved in the structures of your society on earth.
You are also a citizen of heaven with a responsibility to God. In principle, the two – Caesar and God – need not be in conflict. You are called to be a good citizen of both. Get involved in the life of your society, don’t withdraw from it.
It is not that God is in charge of the ‘sacred’ area of your life and the government is in charge of the ‘secular’ area of your life. Rather, your whole life is under God’s authority. Part of your commitment to God is to honour and obey the demands that the government legitimately makes on you. In the same way that a coin would have born Caesar’s image, you bear God’s image (Genesis 1:26). God wants you to give him the whole of your life.
Know that there is life after death
Next, the Sadducees come along with a trick question about a woman with seven husbands. Because the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection they designed a complicated trick question to show how absurd it was (Matthew 22:23–28).
Jesus replies, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God’ (v.29). Jesus uses the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible – which are the only ones the Sadducees trusted) to show that God is ‘not the God of the dead but of the living’ (v.32b).
He does this by quoting God’s words to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:6: ‘I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob’ (Matthew 22:32a). Although Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had been dead for hundreds of years, God did not say ‘I was their God’ but ‘I am their God.’ They are still alive.
Jesus is showing that this life is not all there is. Furthermore, there will be continuity between this life and the life to come. There is a physical resurrection. Yet, there is discontinuity too for we ‘will be like the angels in heaven’ (v.30). Above all, the Scriptures show that there will be a resurrection and if God is all-powerful, why shouldn’t there be?
Prioritise love for God and others
Then, the Pharisees come up with a test question to which Jesus gives a brilliant answer, which goes to the heart of the whole of the Old Testament: love God (‘with all your passion and prayer and intelligence’, v.37, MSG) and love people (‘love others as well as you love yourself’, v.39, MSG). Everything else is a detailed working out of these two commands (vv.34–40).
Having silenced his critics, Jesus then asks them a question about his identity. He shows from the Scriptures that the Christ is not just David’s son – he is David’s Lord (vv.41–46). He demonstrates that the Messiah is far more than simply a great human king. This not only challenges their assumptions about the Messiah, it is also a veiled indication to them of Jesus’ identity.
This is a moment of victory for Jesus: ‘That stumped them, literalists that they were. Unwilling to risk losing face again in one of these public verbal exchanges, they quit asking questions for good’ (v.46, MSG).
Father, please give me wisdom like Jesus to avoid the traps, to deal with the trick questions and to answer the testing ones.
3. Victory over your temptationsJob 30:1-32:22
The book of Job demonstrates once and for all that sin and suffering are not necessarily directly connected to an individual’s sin or lack of sin. The whole point of the book of Job is that, although Job is not perfect (13:26; 14:17), it was not Job’s sin that caused his suffering. Job was ‘blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil’ (1:1).
Job knew that in spite of the accusations of his friends he had a totally clear conscience. It is as if he had been put on trial, facing his ‘accuser’ in the dock with an ‘indictment’ (31:35) against him. In today’s passage he gives his defence (v.35).
Job’s life was an example, an inspiration and a challenge. This is a wonderful picture of holy and righteous living.
Keep yourself pure
He said, ‘I made a covenant with my eyes not to look lustfully at a girl’ (v.1). He was not enticed (v.9) in his heart into adultery. He realised that ‘adultery is a fire that burns the house down’ (v.12, MSG).
He did not put his trust in riches (v.24) in spite of the great wealth he had. Nor did he put his hope in pure gold by saying, ‘You are my security’ (v.24). Again, his heart had not been ‘secretly enticed’ (v.27).
Love your enemy
He had resisted the temptation to hate his enemies. He didn’t gloat when his enemies were in trouble (v.29b) – which is such a powerful temptation. There is a great temptation to speak words of anger, but Job did not allow his ‘mouth to sin by invoking a curse’ (v.30) against his enemies.
It was not just in his personal life that he avoided sin. He was fair to his employees (v.13). He did not deny ‘the desires of the poor’ (v.16a). His ‘door was always open to the traveller’ (v.32).
Lord, help me to live with a clear conscience, to keep myself pure and to put my trust in you alone. Thank you that through the cross of Jesus, you make forgiveness for my past failures possible, and through the power of the Holy Spirit I can be victorious over temptation.
I am very impressed with Job’s confidence that God will find him blameless (Job 31:6). He gives a very long list of the way he has lived his life, including that he has not kept his bread to himself (v.17). I didn’t feel at all generous when I returned home to find that Nicky had given away all the chocolate brownies, that I had made, to a group of visitors. I still have a long way to go!
Verse of the Day
‘He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me’ (Psalm 18:19).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.