In football, you block for the runner. He scores. You win.
In racing, you box and trap for the lead car. He crosses the finish line first. You win.
In baseball, you fly and the runner crosses home. He scores. You win.
In spirituality, the principle is much the same: you have to get out of the way so Christ can win in you. You have to sacrifice your earthly desires in order for God’s desires to manifest in your life (see Romans 8). In order for you to have victory, you must decrease and let him increase (John 3.30). You must become less, so he can become more (see Galatians 5.16-26).
But, in real life, this is often hard to do. It’s hard to figure out precisely how to get out of the way or let go and let God. For example, despite the fact that I want God to rule over my desires, it’s still tricky to remember to ask, “God, what do you want me to do in this situation?” every time my daughter smears crayon on the carpet. My parenting instincts take over (which God gave me, by the way), and my frustration takes over (which isn’t necessarily sinful, by the way), and I tend to react quickly with a reprimand and an appropriate punishment.
And yet, those few times I’ve been able to slow my reaction long enough to breathe a quick prayer or find a short moment of respite from life’s relentless pace, I’m consistently surprised to find God speaks to me and instructs me to do something other than follow my instincts or act like I usually do. Again, it’s not that I’m always acting badly; it’s simply that he wants me to act better. I don’t know how to be better than I am all alone, so he sends his Spirit to teach and guide me. All I have to do is listen and obey.
Attentiveness to the Spirit and obedience to the Father are crucial components for living a victorious Christian life. They don’t come easily, or even naturally. They must be learned. We must discipline ourselves to hear from God, to ask God for wisdom, and to discern the will of God in everyday circumstances, before we merely blunder on as we always have.
“Wait a minute,” some might say right about now. “Are you suggesting we check with God about absolutely everything? How could there even possibly be time?”
Yes. That’s exactly what I’m recommending. And yes, you’re right. There’s isn’t time. But that’s precisely the point. We’re all so out of practice, it takes a long time and a remarkable amount of discipline to hear from God on anything.
Which is why we need to attend to him that much more.
We have to prioritize him in everything, so that in everything we have the victory in Jesus’ name. It might cost some time, but (all things being equal) time is a pretty small sacrifice. If we’re ever going to live in victory, we’ll have to make some sacrifices and take some risks.
What risks are we willing to take to ensure he wins in us? Will we block sin by spending extra time in prayer or studying the Bible? Will we decide now to avoid temptation by not visiting the places and the people that facilitate our worst vices?
Ask God for answers to these questions. And for anything else.
He’ll give them, and you’ll benefit in turn.
He grows. We win.