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Going Solo

Pay close attention to yourself and to the teaching; persevere in these things, for as you do this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.
1 Timothy 4:16 (NASB)


Series: Games People Play

As I descended the stairs into the warm light of the kitchen of my childhood home, the sight before me would often be my mother resting at the kitchen table. With the daily obligations fulfilled and the children bathed and made ready for bed, mom would sit down with either a book promoting her growth or a few games of solitaire.

The game of solitaire intrigued me, and so my mom taught me to play. Even in games we play alone, strategy and skill exist and lessons are learned. The hard truth about single-player games: winning or losing rests fully on the one and only person playing the game.

Flipping the cards over to real-life situations, we each govern our successes and failures. Even in our relationships with God and our journeys of faith—time, commitment, pursuit, study, and perseverance are required for each person to grow and mature. No one can do that work and make that investment for us.

The author of Proverbs provided us with these principles:

Commit yourself to instruction; listen carefully to words of knowledge. (23:12 NLT)

My child, listen and be wise: Keep your heart on the right course. (23:19 NLT)

Get the truth and never sell it; also get wisdom, discipline, and good judgment. (23:23 NLT)

These all are the responsibility of the individual. Paul paralleled this instruction to help the Church understand this truth. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul wrote:

Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else, for each one should carry their own load. (Galatians 5:5-6 NIV)

He encouraged the Philippians with these words:

So then, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12 NASB)

In his letter to the Romans, Paul echoed Jesus’ teachings about each of us giving an account on the day of judgment. Romans 14:12 (NIV) says:

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Personal responsibility is not a fun topic to address. Nevertheless, all of us should reflect upon our thoughts, words, choices, actions, pursuits, and commitment (or lack thereof) and measure our growth, successes, and failures accordingly. This allows us to make the adjustments needed to increase our wins in life.

Like any game, I needed to learn the rules and strategies of Solitaire. My mom taught me well! With patience, she provided instruction while allowing me the space to make mistakes and learn from experience. The more I practiced, the better I became. And even though the outcome of each game resulted from my choices and my moves, my teacher was close by to help me.

In the same way, God is with us as we walk through our days, ready to help us at every turn. His Holy Spirit leads us in truth (John 16:13), teaches us all things (John 14:26), and will even give us the words we need to say the moment we need to say them (Luke 12:12). We are never alone. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, comforts us with these words:

For it is God who is at work in you, both to desire and to work for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13 NASB)

Still, God provides us with the opportunity and ability to make choices. Our successes and failures—wins and losses—do not solely rest on God. We each are responsible for ourselves and we will give an account for our choices. There’s no stacking that deck!

Let’s up our game this week! Let’s grow in faith by committing to seek God first.  God is with us, for us, and working in us. May we be patient, observant, strategic, and committed in our choices and moves as we increase our wins.

Holding Fast to Hope,

Scripture References: 1 Timothy 4:16; Proverbs 23:12, 19, 23; Galatians 5:5-6; Philippians 2:12-13; Romans 8:31, 14:12; John 14:26, 16:13; Luke 12:12; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Matthew 28:20.


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