1. What, if it was taken from you, would be hardest for you to let go of or give up?
How did you become the athlete or coach you are today? It was likely because of your passion for sports, your dedication to keep getting better, and the hours and hours of hard work you’ve put in. So if this is supposed to be your sport’s season and now it’s been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic, you’re feeling not only disappointed – you might also be feeling kind of bitter: “This is my season and now it’s been taken from me!”
The coronavirus trial can stir feelings like this not only with sports but also in other areas of life: what we have, what belongs to us, what we expected would be ours now seems like it’s being taken from us. Maybe you had a special event or trip planned that has now been taken away. Maybe you had a level of economic stability that has now been removed. Maybe you felt like you had a chance to play at the next level. However, now that may not happen because the opportunities you’d been counting on to showcase your skills are no longer available.
Here’s a question to consider in the midst of our disappointment and bitterness: Does the way I view all that I have align with the Lord’s design for my perspective?
Read Mark 10:17-31 and Philippians 3:7-11
In Mark 10:17-31, Jesus’ goal is not to make it as hard as possible for this wealthy man to be part of God’s Kingdom. Jesus really loves this guy (v. 21). But Jesus knows that for the man to truly follow him, he must be confronted with the issue of ownership. If this guy struggles to let go of being the owner of his material possessions, he will struggle to let go of being the owner of his life. To enter God’s Kingdom is to submit to Jesus’ rule over his life as the true King – to belong to Jesus.
When his disciples wonder aloud how this can happen, Jesus says that it’s impossible to do this on our own strength (v. 27). But God will give us the power and grace to do this if we’re willing by faith to release ownership of our life to him. Jesus also assures his disciples that those who follow him will receive from him far more than anything we give up (vv. 29-30).
Paul reinforces this truth in Philippians 3:7-11. Previously, Paul held tightly to his all-star status in his field, as well as to his accomplishments achieved through dedication and hard work. Then he realized all of this paled in comparison with the infinite value of knowing and belonging to Jesus Christ. To call Jesus “my Lord” (v. 8) is to say, “He is my Master and King. All that I am and all that I have belongs to him.” It’s an issue of ownership.
2. What do you find most challenging from the teaching of these two passages? What from these passages is most encouraging for you?
How do you view all that you have: your possessions, your time, your talents and skills in sports and other areas, your relationships, your plans, your life? Do you see yourself as the owner of these things, or does all that you are and all that you have belong to Jesus? When we place our faith in Christ, he calls us to follow him not only as our Savior but also as our Lord.
Surrendering ownership doesn’t mean Jesus will ask us to give up sports or talents or all our possessions. While Jesus could do this if out of love he knows this is best for us, far more often something else happens. When we release full ownership to Jesus, he actually enhances our experience of playing or coaching sports, or using other talents, or stewarding our possessions. All these things become far more rewarding when done for the glory of Christ as our King – just as Jesus promises in Mark 10:29-30.
How can you make the most of this opportunity to learn through the coronavirus trial? One step is to consider this issue of ownership. Feelings of disappointment during this time are natural. However, if you find yourself becoming bitter about what’s been “taken” from you, this is likely an indication that you haven’t fully released ownership of your life to Jesus. Confess this to him, receive his love and grace, and offer this prayer of commitment: “King Jesus, I belong to you. I am fully yours.”
There really is nothing greater than knowing and following Christ Jesus our Lord.
3. Which areas of your life are hardest for you to release ownership to Jesus? Ask the Lord to give you his power and grace in these areas day by day to trust and follow him as your King.
8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ 9 and become one with him.