How is Your Aim?
Jun 7, 2017 // By:Dave // No Comment
Success! Failure! These words hold opposite ends of the measuring stick in our culture. Those around us who “drank the koolaid” are quick to attempt to place people at one end of the stick or the other based on they’re perceived success in this world. While struggles are a prerequisite to success however, most of us then to place “struggle” at the failure end of the stick. Without obstacles, what is there to claim a victory over. Success over what struggles is the unasked question. What is success?
Our culture has changed focus over the last few generations. There was a time (that even I can remember) when character was more important than accomplishment; when honor was more important than might. The people lifted up and held as role models were men and women of true character, honest and selfless rolemodels of society that we wanted to be like and hoped that our children would grow up to be like as well. Policemen, firemen, statesmen who stared into the face of danger or obstacles to protect others, individuals and even countries from evil. Virtue used to be something we considered worth upholding.
Our world may have “functional” definitions of these words but I would go as far as calling them dysfunctional meanings. They lead us to false conclusions about what they are and, even more damaging, to false conclusions about ourselves.
Let’s go to the definitive, absolute dictionary about defining life concepts and ourselves … the Bible.
There is a word used to define failure that runs through the entire scripture … sin.
I am aware that there are 6 words used as nouns for sin in the old testament and 3 more used as verbs. They have differing shades of meaning but while some deal with mistakes and others deal with deliberate violation of law all 9 of these words will still fall under the same principle I am about to outline below.
Original Word: חָטָא
Part of Speech: Verb
Phonetic Spelling: (khaw-taw’)
meaning: to miss a mark
I have read many times that this is actually an archery term “miss the mark” so to say. I aim at the bullseye but my arrow goes to a different spot on the target (assuming I hit the target at all).
There is a parable taught in the New Testament regarding God’s view of effort (aiming for the bullseye) compared to lack of effort (shooting without even trying to hit the center). Matthew 25:14-30 gives us the “parable of the talents”. In it, we read about three servants entrusted with varying amounts of money (talents) to invest on behalf of their master while he is away on a trip. The master returns to find two of the three servants did well and multiplied the funds they were given and rewarded for their efforts (their goal setting was good because their aim was true). The third servant is severly reprimanded and rejected because he did not even try to multiply the talents but buried them instead and merely gave the master back the original amount he had been given (this is not what the master told him to do in the beginning). This third servant’s aim was so bad it seems he was not even trying to hit any part of the target, let alone going for the bullseye. This is intentially missing the mark; a deliberate “falling short of a given goal”. While it is not contained in the parable, we see the heart of God in this parable and implied is the additional idea that the master would not have been cross with the first two servants if they had tried to mulitply the talents and something had gone wrong and they lost it. Look at the way the third servant is reprimanded; the basis of the rejection is because he was “lazy and wicked” in verse 26 and called “worthless” in verse 30. His rejection is based upon his lack of effort more than the outcome.
I read earlier today a quote of unknown source that goes as follows: “Tragedy is not attaining one’s goals in life but not ever having goals at all to reach for.”
The real waste of life is an archer who has no target and never fires his bow at all !
God made you and He made you with purpose.
- He made us to love us (Jeremiah 31:3
- He made us to love Him back (Deuteronomy 6:5)
- He made us to love each other (Matthew 22:39)
- He made us to do the good works prepared for us in advance (Ephesians 2:10)
- He made us to defeat the adversary with our faith in God (Ephesians 6:10-18, James 4:6-8)
- He made us so that, as we turn to Him, we may point others back to Him (2 Corinthians 5:18-20) called the “Ministry of Reconciliation”.
That is plenty of bulleye’s to shoot at. When we aim and miss the center, some imperfection works it’s way into the aiming and shooting process (and miss we will) this is sin. This is the time to learn from the mistake and ask God to help us do it better next time. This is not a time to sit and condemn ourselves (that is the enemy talking and his words will always be deceptive and damaging). God’s conviction to always be to draw us closer (not further away). The point is to keep trying, keep aiming, keep shooting, and like everything worth doing, practice makes us better.
Of course, also implied here is to be shooting at the right targets !! (dont waste your aim on bullseyes that God never wanted you shooting at in the first place (we only have so much time and so many arrows to invest and shoot away).
Let’s take a look at something the Apostle Paul wrote on this topic of wasted effort and time. 1 Cor 13:1-3. Yes, the great love chapter!! What could this have to do with the measure of success. Well, I’m looking at the definition from God’s dictionary rather than man’s.
Man says success is: a favorable or desired outcome, the attainment of wealth, favor, or eminence
God says success is: the faithful application of love to anyone around you that God puts in your path.
Let’s look at this from the man’s definition: wealth, favor, and eminence.
- who’s wealth (and what defines the wealth) ?
- who’s favor?
- what eminence (rank or title)?
How I define success is just as important as how I achieve succcess because we are created by a loving God who is even more concerned with how our hearts grow that the materiala things we accomplish in the process.
Obstacles create new strength. James 1:2-3
This is really easy to apply to the christian experience. Only in trials does our faith become tested and made stronger. James 1:2-4. God allows, even brings struggles into our lives because He desires, as the most loving thing anyone could desire for another, is complete Christ-likeness (and total dependence upon Him in faith) 1 Cor 10:13, Phil 4:13
It is the struggle that causes us to grow. Rom 5:3. Without resistance, there is no triumph of the heart and no growth of faith. The struggles we face are not punishments from God, nor are they something to be avoided at all costs. The struggles are often the greatest blessings since, as a matter of human track record, we do not learn from our apparent success, but rather from our failures. We are stronger after the trial, not after the smooth sailing. It is the gym workout that tones us and increases our endurance, not the month long vacation, swinging in a hammock and watching thousands of clouds drift overhead. We get soft without adversity. We grow weak without resistance.
Ever heard of how pressure transforms coal into a diamond ? It’s a little more complex than just squeezing a lump of coal.
- It takes enormous pressure (130,000 atmospheres) to compress carbon into the crystaline structure we call a diamond
- it also takes heat (+1200 degrees C)
- the greater the impurities in the source material the more unlikely it can crystalize into a diamond even if the other factors are present.
Do you see a parallel here ?
- Pressure and heat are required for transformation.
- The more impurities present, the harder the transformation becomes.
- Sounds a lot like what God is doing in our lives, huh?
How does God measure your success? Are you looking at your mirror, your house, maybe your checkbook for the measuring stick ?
Struggles are not a sign of weakness, they are the path to getting stronger! (and life struggles in the life of the believer are not always evidence of secret sin, but often evidence of God’s love for us!) The truth is between you and God.
How about using the measure of a successful life that has existed ever since mankind experience being inspired and empowered to record the thoughts of his creator … the Bible. Heb 4:12
Let God define your success, train your heart and mind to understand and desire it Matt 6:33, and to run for it. Heb 12:1-3, 1 Cor 9:24
Have you chosen your God-given bullseye ?
How is your aim ?
εν διακονια τω θεω, Dave Cadieux