Two qualities we must have in order to succeed are respect and preparation. It does not matter what you are trying to accomplish - these qualities are a must. Since the Super Bowl is right upon us, let us take football as an example.
In order to succeed in football, you need to first and foremost have respect for the game. After all, you did not create the game, did you? An athlete might think, “We could win if I threw this ball forward after the catch”. Even though he thinks this, it does not mean it works. In the end, if he throws the ball forward after the catch the team will be penalized. Respect is needed to succeed in football.
Preparation is the second quality needed. As fans, we all too often insult players for their “bad plays”. We say things like, “Come on! I could’ve made that tackle!”, but if we’re honest with ourselves we really couldn’t “make that tackle.” Why? Because we have not prepared like an athlete has. Preparation is a key to any success we wish to have.
Are we here to talk about football? No, but it does illustrate a key principle in our Christian walk. How many times have we gotten in a “spiritual argument” with someone and neglected to quote or reference one text from scripture to solidify our point? We have all heard or participated in these self-authoritative arguments before, haven’t we? The problem with this debating technique is threefold: 1. It shows lack of respect for God’s word as the authority (we have become the authority). 2. It shows lack of preparation from God’s word on our par.t 3. It is entirely ineffective in winnings souls to Christ.
Instead, our lives need to convey what Peter was saying in 1 Peter 4:11, “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
As Christians, we must respect God’s word for what it is, the authority over our lives (e.g. 2 Timothy 3:16-17). If it is the authority over our lives that means it no longer matters what “I think” or what “I say.” The question becomes how do we live and speak with a proper respect for God’s authority? The answer is preparation. Peter earlier said, “…sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence…” (1 Peter 3:15).
The point is that we need to get back to God’s word. As Christians, our response to those questioning our doctrines mustn’t be, “well I think”, or “that’s what my preacher says,” or “this is what our church teaches.” We need to have a proper respect and work ethic in regards to God’s word. Imagine the impact there would be if every Christian gave a scriptural reference or quotation when defending the faith! Respect and preparation shown through our words or actions will silence the onslaught of nitpickers (e.g. Titus 2:8), and glorify our God in heaven (e.g. 1 Peter 4:11). So let us respect God’s word, and prepare our minds with His teachings!