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Devotionals 2004

Avoiding Failure - Part 2
March 20, 2004By Ed Wrather

03.20.04

And while He was still speaking, behold, Judas, one of the twelve, with a great multitude with swords and clubs, came from the chief priests and elders of the people. Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him. But Jesus said to him, "Friend, why have you come?" Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. And suddenly, one of those who were with Jesus stretched out his hand and drew his sword, struck the servant of the high priest, and cut off his ear. But Jesus said to him, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?" - Matthew 26:47-54.

Everyone knows that hockey is a violent sport and this was confirmed for those who had doubts when Todd Bertuzzi attacked Colorado’s Steve Moore from behind. There was no way Moore could have protected himself from such a vicious and unexpected attack. As with many others I have watched the news coverage and video of this act of violence several times. It is horrifying to watch as Bertuzzi hits Moore from behind slamming his fist into the back of the head and neck pushing him to the ice with the weight of his body on top. Moore suffered a concussion, broken vertebra, and will miss at least the rest of the season. Bertuzzi has been suspended and fined.

Bertuzzi’s action is said to have been premeditated and perhaps it was to the extent that someone can premeditate such an act of violence in the period of a few minutes. However, it is very unlikely that Bertuzzi was planning this attack for weeks or months before the violence occurred. What is the point? The point is that Bertuzzi like many others allow themselves to be controlled by the whim, the emotion of the moment. The thought came to Todd to hit Moore and without a second thought he did it, we all know the result, and Bertuzzi knows the result now as well.

Allowing the whim, the emotion of the moment to control us very often will result in very unpleasant things. Sadly, even those we would consider spiritually mature can and do make the same mistake. Consider the apostle Peter who when they came to arrest Jesus committed an act of violence against the servant of the High Priest cutting off his ear. Most likely Peter intended to cut off the head and not the ear but that kind of swordsmanship requires constant practice. Certainly, the violence was not something that Jesus wanted and he says as much, "Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus?"

As we have already seen Peter, along with the rest of the disciples were overconfident in their spiritual abilities. Peter never thought that he would be capable of denying Jesus - and yet he did. Peter was sure of himself, sure of his emotions, and confident that he would always do what was right. However, Peter made the wrong decision through obeying the whim/the emotion of the moment.

If we want to avoid being ruled by the emotions of the moment like Bertuzzi and Peter we must become disciplined. What does that mean? It means that we do what we know that we must do in our spiritual life even when we do not feel like it. We will come to church on Sunday mornings, Sunday nights, and Wednesday nights not because we happen to feel like it but because we know it is the right thing to do. We will read our Bibles and pray not because we happen to feel like it but because we know it is the right thing to do and beneficial to our spiritual health. We must get beyond the idea that spiritual things are always going to “feel” good.

To avoid the rule of our lives by our emotions we must constantly be about doing what is right and good whether we enjoy it, like it, or even if we hate it. Why? Because we train ourselves to then do what is right when under stress and we have to make critical decisions in a moment of time. Don’t make the mistake of overconfidence believing you will always do what is right even during stressful times. Peter would tell you not to count on it. Prepare for those stressful times by daily doing what you know you ought to do whether you like it or not.


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