The Battle for “Mine”

About three weeks ago I picked up on my son’s comment during the car ride, and I attempted to drive home a point. My son had claimed something as “his.” More specifically, he wanted credit from his brother for finding a particular YouTube video. It struck a nerve with me because my oldest son, who is now 13, has become notably more territorial. Explaining all of the factors that would have gone into “his” discovery of the video made me feel better, even though it may have landed on deaf ears.
And then it was my turn. The very next morning, after bringing my sons to school, I stopped by the grocery store for a handful of staple items. The local grocery was quiet early in the morning so only the service counter was open. I set my items on the counter and decided to be Mr. Good Citizen and walked over to put the basket back where I had found it. As I came back to the counter, I noticed that the cashier had begun to check out the woman who was behind me in line. Internally I was taken aback: “I was there first! Didn’t she see that I was doing a good thing? And couldn’t she wait twenty seconds until I returned?”
Mine. That ugly word reared its head in our home again today. My two oldest sons disputed the use of a shared desk in their bedroom. Neither would budge. My attempt to intervene only proved more frustrating to them and to me. I tried to exhibit dominion over them as their father, reaching deep (not that deep) into my bag of tricks to restore order and reclaim peace. My peace. Their conflict was interrupting my day.
I would not often accuse myself of being a fast learner, as this course of events clearly revealed. As I retreated to the bathroom to wash up after a workout – and to avoid further unraveling on my part – it finally dawned on me. I was fighting the wrong battle. My sons were not the problem. The problem was not even the problem. The problem was a lie and the problem was the liar – the father of lies. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) That is the truth, and thankfully, that is the truth that was brought to my mind.
Recognizing that truth helped redirect my energy, helped refocus my battle. Why should I be in combat with my sons when the source of conflict was a spirit of selfishness, greed, and pride? In my very helpless I-can’t-do-it state, I began to speak out truth and claim the victory found in the life of Jesus Christ. I commanded the enemy out of my home and away from my children and humbly acknowledged that neither this house nor these children are “mine.”
“Have your way.” Simple words, but powerful. They ought to leave my lips more often. I would do well to leave my Burger King attitude at the foot of the cross so that God’s will can be accomplished without my resistance. I need to be the burger flipper and fry dipper that simply says, “Have it your way, God.” But far, far too often I think I own the place. Very clearly I don’t.
I need to speak truth more often – not my truth – God’s truth. I need to speak Scripture. I need to pray Scripture. I need to stop believing that I can add anything to what is HIS. I would love to tell you that my oldest sons have hugged and washed each other’s feet. Nope. But I have confirmation that I’m fighting the right battle and I’m chasing them with the truth. When I opened up YouVersion to study Proverbs, the Verse of the Day was the same one I have painted on my living room wall – 2 Thessalonians 3:3, “But The Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” Truth. And I turned on Pandora to bring an atmosphere of worship into the home. I chose the Francesca Battistelli station – my son Joshua’s favorite artist – and the first song that played was “I’m Letting Go.” I pray that I can also make that statement a truth in this home.


What is the Point of Purity? Victory!

If you are a sports fan at all, there has probably been a time when you had to give up watching a “very important” game because some other event had taken precedence. I once had to move on Super Bowl Sunday. From what I heard, the game was awesome. I missed it. A friend of mine was married on the day Michigan played Notre Dame in football. I missed a classic. One time, when I was much younger, a Chicago Bears playoff game fell on the same day as a family Christmas party. So my uncle, a native Chicagoan, brought a TV set to the party, set up the antennae as best he could, and watched as the Bears played the Eagles in the “Fog Bowl.” He could hardly see what was happening.
It is much harder to do now, but have you ever tried to avoid hearing the result of a game? Maybe you really, really wanted to watch the game, but standing up in a wedding was more important. So you recorded the game and told everyone not to tell you the results of the game. Now, let’s say someone accidentally told you the result – would you still watch? (Spoiler alert: I’m going to tell you a result here in a minute.) If you are truly a fan of the team, you would likely still watch. You want to see how the result happened. Who performed at their best so that your team could win? What play is worth seeing again even though you already know the result?
Well, in the game of purity, the result has already been determined. YOU WIN! (I warned you.) Unfortunately, many do not live that way. We do not live as if we are able to achieve victory in purity. But saying that we cannot achieve victory in purity is akin to placing a period after Good Friday. Christ’s death was not the final sentence in his story, and it certainly is not the final line of your story.
No, Christ’s death was the price, the sacrifice, but his life is the gift and the promise! In a discussion on purity at a recent men’s breakfast, we were asked to do the following exercise:
Write down the ways in which you had been impure over the last year. Once everyone was done, everyone crumpled their paper into a ball. Then we closed our eyes. Once everyone closed their eyes, each person tossed their crumpled paper anywhere in the room. Then we found a crumpled paper and read the anonymous lists.
We all have a list. And if you are like me, you do not fully disclose to others. I assure you that my list, even with the promise of anonymity, was incomplete. Intentionally so. We do not like to expose our mess. But what if we remembered that our mess, our sin, our brokenness, stands under the promise of complete forgiveness? What if we remembered that Christ did not simply die as the punishment for our sins, but he rose again to give us new life?
We know the end result. We know the final score. But we live as if the balance of the game hangs on us. We operate in the purity battle as if the fight is too much for us. Good news: it is. You see, if I based my purity only on my own efforts, I would always fall short. I need more than an anonymous list on a sheet of paper to list all of my infractions. But thank The Lord for Christ!
For through the Law I died to the Law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for me. Galatians 2:19, 20
Your list is not a blank sheet of paper. And the Law tells us the price of our list – death. But that is not a price you have to pay. It has been paid, in full, but our loving Savior. And we have had our lists, our brokenness, nailed to the cross. That’s amazing! But even more amazing is that Christ does not stay there; he conquered death!
If death cannot hold him, you see, there is nothing left. That was the victory the enemy thought he could claim, and it failed. Christ rose again so that we can experience new life! If I told you that your heart’s desire, your bestest and favoritest thing in the world was available to you now or at Christmas, how many of you would wait until Christmas? If you say that you would wait, we’re going to have a talk. Why not have it now?
“The life which I now live..”
Paul’s letter to the people in Galatia did not hold out a promise they could not receive, but there is a victory that you are to live in now.
The final result of the game has already been determined. Purity wins because Christ won. And continues to win. When you take control over your steps of purity, you are operating in the life that is available and promised in full. That is not to say that the enemy will not still attempt to take you out at the knees, or in the eyes, or in the heart. That will happen. Yet Paul poses this question:
But now that you know God – how is it that you are turning back to those weak and miserable principles? Do you wish to be enslaved by them all over again?” Galatians 4:9
Paul is very clear. Christ is clear. The life of purity is meant to be a life of victory. The list that you wrote, the stumbles that you took, the painful mistakes – none of that change the end result of the game. You did not need to believe that the balance of this match hangs on your shoulders.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by the yoke of slavery.” Galatians 5:1
Maybe the struggle seems so difficult because you are still yoked in slavery. That is a heavy yoke; one you ought not bear. You do not have to bear it. Why? Because you are on the team that has this motto:
For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30
Jesus knows about the yoke. He knows about your list. But he also knows the victory. And that is a victory he invites you to share. It is yours – for your life now. You will find the game to be very different when you remember that YOU WIN because HE WON.
Go Team Purity!