Many years ago, I entered a karate competition. As I awaited my turn in the ring, I sized up my opponents. One man stood out from the rest. He was in his thirties with a scraggly beard and very rough looking. My thought was anyone but him. The luck of the draw pitted me against that man. Fear raced through my mind as he and I squared off to do battle. They declared me the victor in less than a minute. I was shocked that I was able to beat such a leathery looking opponent. But that was only round one.
Again, I stood on the sideline, looking who remained that I had to fight, as one by one, competitors took the walk of shame and the circle of winners shrunk. I then won my next round and there were only two of us left. I had not paid this young man any attention as he was skinny and quite weak looking. I leaned over, extended my hand to wish him luck, but inside I knew I had this competition wrapped up. He smiled at me and wished me luck as well. We entered the ring, bowed to the Sensei, faced each other and bowed, and then just before the judge yelled, “FIGHT”, this meek young boy’s face turned from kind to violent, startling me. The fight was on and very quickly he took my strategy (walk to the table and pick up my trophy) apart and won 3 to 2. I was stunned at the loss. How could I let someone who looked so innocent beat me?
I learned a critical mindset that day, never underestimate my enemy. My mind gave me permission to stand-down, to relax a little, and glance at the large trophy on the table near us. The trophy I would never have because I underestimated my opponent.
In life, I wonder how many of us will never see the "trophy" God has waiting for us because we underestimated the enemy and overestimated our resolve. How many times has that ego-boosting glance from an attractive person lured an otherwise powerful warrior to fall? How many times has an advertisement promising happiness with their shiny new product sent a person to financial ruin and the landslide of heartaches that follow? How many times have we read the verses that Satan masquerades as an angel of light, that he is brilliant, beautiful, acts like God, appears good to the human intellect, yet is a roaring lion seeking to devour those who miscalculate and become complacent? How many times will I continue to underestimate my enemy and trust in my abilities?
I wish I would see the immediate spiritual results of such failures as I did, physically, that day in the ring. Sadly, it is usually a process, a slow process, where we allow the drip to become a raging torrent and succumb to his fierce powerful grip. By ignoring our weakness we are ultimately unable to fulfill our purpose—glorifying God with our lives.
According to God, our enemy is a seasoned and unyielding enemy, and we do not need to size him up. Instead, RUN from temptation and PURSUE righteousness, is our answer. Look away, walk away, run away, just get out of the way of our enemies reach (Gen 39:12; 1 Tim. 6:11). Do not glance at the winner’s table; we have work to do and the enemy is trying to stop us with egotistical pursuits, busyness, and burdens.
“So flee youthful passions and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the Lord from a pure heart.” 2 Tim. 2:22
"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize." 1 Cor. 9:24
"I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us." Phil. 3:14