Summary: Dangers when all is going well
The Problem of Victory - 10/9/16
Turn with me this morning to 1 Corinthians 10. I remember as a boy each week watching ABC’s Wide World of Sports. And in the opening sequence they used the phrase “The thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.” And the reality of life is that each one of us will experience both the thrill of victory AND the agony of defeat - several times throughout our lives - as well as everything in between. Now as Christians we seek to live in HOPE! And whenever we find ourselves experiencing the agony of defeat we keep telling ourselves that things are going to get better - that God is still with us - that we’ll make it through somehow - that God can bring about good through the trials we experience. We prepare ourselves for the days in the valley. There are some people who seem like they live in the valley - going from tragedy to tragedy - but most of us do a pretty good job of looking for God to work, waiting for God to bring us through. We have learned to exercise our faith when things go badly.
But this morning I want us to look at the other end of the spectrum. How does our faith come into play when things are going WELL? Because there are DANGERS we face in our spiritual lives when things go well. And I want to remind you of some of them this morning.
In our passage in 1 Corinthians 10, Paul is recounting lessons from the wilderness wanderings of the Jews. They all came out of Egypt victoriously and were led by God in the wilderness, but many of them ended up dying off in the desert. And in verse 12 Paul gives us this warning: So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! When we get to the point where everything is going well for us - we’re paying our bills, getting along with our neighbors, feeling loved by our spouse, having good health - watch out! Because times of victory can be a trap for us spiritually. First, because
• They are Temporary - we never want to forget that we can go from a time of victory to a time of great failure and defeat in a moment. We can’t live on the mountaintop. God COULD let only good come to us - but it is in the times of trial, the times of testing, the times where we need to persevere that we grow the most spiritually. So God ISN’T going to let us stay on the mountaintop. God is going to let us go through some valleys.
Sometimes we buy into the prosperity gospel and we think that since we’re Christians were going to be safe and well-fed, have great kids, and live in a prosperous land. But God NEVER promises us those things. Rather, what He DOES promise us is that when the storms of life come - and they certainly will - He will be right there with us as we weather out the storms. We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. But God’s working good is often accomplished by our going through the hard times. Paul writes to the Romans and says, And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.
What is God saying there? We go through suffering to teach us to persevere - to not give up - when we suffer, we learn that we can turn to God and He is there for us - He never leaves us or forsakes us - and that perseverance builds character, it builds spiritual maturity - and when we grow in spiritual maturity we will learn to hold on to hope. When we hope in God He never let’s us down.
So you might be experience great victory TODAY - life may be good - but be prepared for TOMORROW! Because as good as it may be today, don’t be shocked if everything seems to go wrong tomorrow. In 1 Kings 18 we see Elijah facing the prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. It is one of the great victory stories in scripture. 450 prophets of Baal against 1 man of God. The contest will be decided by whose God can send fire down from heaven. The prophets of Baal chant and cry out and cut themselves and work themselves into a frenzy - until finally in the afternoon Elijah says “It’s my turn now!” He douses the sacrifice with 12 barrels of water - and when he prays, God answers. Verse 38 tells us, Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD--he is God! The LORD--he is God!” Elijah is on the mountaintop in victory.