I saw a poster recently with a picture of Michael Jordan on it. It caught my attention because it’s been over ten years since he played. Underneath his photo, in big letters, it said “Victory”. Then it wrote out the definition of victory. As I thought about it, he became synonymous with winning and victory, but that’s not his full story. Before he became a star, he couldn’t make his high school team. After he became a star, he failed at gambling, marriage and baseball. He failed in more areas than he succeeded in, but he did not let those failures define him.
You and I are the same. Our failures outnumber our successes. I get caught up sometimes just thinking about my failures. I wonder why I still try. I beat myself down because my failures seem so stupid. I think I should be able to beat them, but each time I fail, I get down on myself. I saw a friend on Facebook ask the other day, “Is it a true portrait of a man to see him when he is tempted?” I thought a lot about that. My first inclination was to say yes. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized I thought that because I allow my failures to define me.
You and I are more than who we are when we are tempted and when we fail. We are also the person who knows where to seek forgiveness after a failure. We are the person who stands on mountain tops with our arms outstretched looking up to Heaven when we’ve succeeded. We are the person who pushes through when we don’t feel like it and no one seems to care. We are complex and should never allow ourselves to be defined or think that an accurate portrait of ourselves is who we are when we fail.
In Romans 8, Paul listed all kinds of things that could define us. At the end of that list, he said, “Despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ.” It’s time we started to see ourselves as God sees us. We are not all the mistakes, failures or temptations that we face. You and I are victors. We are the very definition of victory if we are willing to get back up, seek forgiveness and to try again. We may not be considered synonymous with victory in the world’s eyes, but we are in God’s. When He looks at you, He doesn’t see a failure. He sees someone made in His image with the power to win.
Michael Jordan. Wayne Gretzky. Albert Einstein. Wolfgang Mozart. Muhammad Ali. Oprah Winfrey. Mother Theresa. These are some of the greatest names in their respective fields. A list of greats could go on for days and include a lot of people. If we extended it to other things like cars, cities, foods and other things, the list would be even larger. People will always debate on who is or what is the greatest in everything, but there is one thing that there is no debate on and that is the greatest commandment in the Bible.
It was settled by Jesus in Mark 12:30. One of the religious leaders of the day approached Him and asked, “Of all the commandments, which one is the greatest?” When you think of all the commandments in the Bible, this is a legitimate question. It’s one that anyone would want to know. God’s first commandment was to not eat from the Tree of Knowledge. Adam and Eve broke that one. Later God gave 10 Commandments to Moses. The first one on there was “Thou shalt not have any other gods before me.” They were breaking that one as it was being etched in stone.
When God gives commandments, we tend to break them. We act like a child does when a parent tells them not to do something. “Don’t touch that stove. It’s hot!” And the kid looks at you and touches it anyway. When we think of commandments, we equate them to “Thou shalt nots”, but when this man asked Jesus about the greatest commandment, He didn’t give him a “Thou shalt not.” Instead, He gave him a “Thou shalt do.”
In Mark 12:30, Jesus answered with, “Love The Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” It sounds like such a simple thing to do, but we struggle with each of these areas at times. We might be able to love Him with our heart and soul, but don’t know how to love Him with our mind and strength. It’s tough to love God in all four areas, but when we do, we have the ability to accomplish great things. Our name could be on that list of greats when history looks back on us.
This week I want to focus on each of those areas to see how we can love God in each of these areas of our lives. If that is the greatest commandment, then we should work on doing it as Christians. I believe that if we can love Him in each of these areas, not only will our lives change, but our world will too. It’s time for believers to quit complaining about how bad the world is and to start doing something to change it for the better with our lives. I believe it starts right here in this verse. What do you think?