Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Playing the Game

This week, we've been talking about the devil's game and how he sometimes uses goodness in  your life to accomplish your goals. We've seen how a little measure of goodness can be just what you need in order to forfeit your hope and question your faith, and we've established two key ways to tell the difference between the devil's game and the goodness of God (the goodness of God is not fragile nor will it distract you from other good things). 

The question then, is, what do you do with the devil's goodness when he gives it to you?

And the answer, quite simply, is that you enjoy it while it lasts

There's something in us that wants to say that we shouldn't enjoy anything the devil gives us, that our best course of action is to reject his goodness even when he gives it. But that's foolish. And to do so hands him yet another victory. 

Imagine that you have been in so much pain that you haven't been able to get out of your house for two weeks. As part of his game, the devil takes your pain away (usually right before you're ready to stand up for yourself and demand your doctors try something new). Knowing that it is the devil's game that you are not in pain today, would you then lie around in bed anyway and refuse to get up and go anywhere and do anything because you know the goodness is false and won't last? Of course not. What a wasted day to spend in bed! You'd get up, go for a walk, do some grocery shopping, buy yourself some flowers. And you should.

Take advantage of the goodness. Just don't get sucked into it. 

Don't get lulled into its false sense of security. Don't let yourself think that this is your new normal. Don't let yourself believe, in a fragile goodness, that it's 'over,' that you're healed and the battle is won and you no longer need those things you've set your hope on. 

We can enjoy goodness, even a fragile goodness, without forfeiting our hope or questioning our faith. We can take the gift of goodness however it comes and live it to its fullest, knowing that God Himself desires good things for us, without accepting all of the baggage that comes with it when it's just part of the devil's game. And we should. We should throw ourselves into it for all that it is and enjoy it...while continuing to call it out for the cheap substitute that it is. While continuing to remind ourselves how fragile it is. 

But wait a minute - didn't I say yesterday that it's the very fragility of goodness that should cause us to question it? Yes. Yes, I did. This is where we have to draw one of those sticky little lines again. 

The fragility of goodness reminds us where it comes from. The goodness of God is not fragile, and we can throw ourselves into it wholeheartedly and without reservation. But the goodness of the devil's game is extremely fragile. That doesn't mean that we can't throw ourselves into it; what it means is that we do so reservedly, rightly naming the goodness as fragile and boldly declaring that we understand where it comes from. And then, being thankful for it anyway, for the devil himself cannot truly corrupt goodness; even when it is fragile, it is still good - and if it is good, then it is God's, even when He's not the one who has given it. 

It's complicated, but it doesn't have to be. It's really quite simple: embrace goodness whenever it comes into your life. Life into it as fully as you can. But keep goodness in its proper perspective - is it a gift from God or is it part of the devil's game? Figure that out and act accordingly, but whatever you do, don't neglect the goodness altogether. That's foolish. 

No one stays in bed on a day on which she finally has the strength to move. That doesn't teach the devil anything. 

If you really want to teach him a lesson, live all of the goodness he gives you, right to the very last drop, and then hold onto your hope anyway. Hold onto your faith anyway. Tell him, "thanks, bro" but in the same breath remind him that this little game he's playing? You just won. 

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