I was at the front of the line in
a tug of war once and still remember something distinctly: I wondered to myself,
“What would happen if I let go of the rope?” Being a small person, I did not
think it would matter at all.
As soon as I let go, we were
suddenly pulled forward by the opposing side. With surprise, I discovered that
I did make a difference. Although it was not a momentous pull, it was enough
for me to notice. Of course, no one behind me knew I had let go because, unlike
me, they were focused on pulling. I realized that there would always be those
to pick up the slack and continue to battle even if some grew weary or lazy (or
curious, in my case).
Anyone who has observed or
participated in a tug of war knows that the greatest moments of struggle are
those that appear to stand still. It may seem as though nothing is happening at
all when in fact, a tremendous amount of pressure is at stake – two opposing
sides in equilibrium battling for victory.
Our spiritual battle is subtle but
no less fierce as we battle “against principalities, against powers, against
the rulers of the darkness of this age” (Eph 6:12). While everything may seem
calm and secure in our lives, we are actually in a vital moment of struggle in
this spiritual tug of war. We have to be ever more vigilant as one of Satan’s
most subtle tactics is to tempt us when our guards are down.
Being in this spiritual tug of war,
we must fully realize that every member matters (1 Cor 12:12-22). The last
person in the tug of war line serves as an anchor but cannot win alone.
Likewise, we cannot rely on a few key members, because even they will grow
weary (Isa 40:30). Just as concentration and coordination are essential to
winning a tug of war, we must all work together as one body, pressing forward,
being of the same mind, and staying alert so we may help those who are weak.
The fundamental reason is that the battle must always continue on.
As much as we are not alone in our
spiritual journey, it is still a personal journey. Just like the fundamental
rule of tug of war teaches: it does not matter how long we hold on for if, in
the end, we let go (Ezek 18:24).
Every inch of ground lost or
gained matters a great deal because it means being that much further or closer
to victory. Each time we sin, we allow Satan to gain a step closer to victory
over us. However, “to the degree that we have already attained” reminds us that
with every inch of ground gained each time we try to preach the gospel or
glorify God in our daily lives, we are that much closer to victory.