Links Daily Devotional

Choose to Lose

“If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake and for the sake of the Good News, you will save it.” (Mark 8:35, NLT)

The 1969 Ryder Cup held at Royal Birkdale is one of the most storied of all the great matches because of a selfless act of sportsmanship by Jack Nicklaus. Some of you know the story of “The Concession,” where Jack Nicklaus and Tony Jacklin came to the final hole of these highly contested matches with the entire competition on the line. In what had become an extremely intense scene of a series of matches marred by unsportsmanlike behavior from both sides, Nicklaus conceded a very missable putt on the eighteenth hole to Jacklin, knowing that this would result in the matches ending in a draw and not a possible U.S. victory if he missed.

This selfless gesture by Nicklaus was not initially welcomed by his teammates or captain, but it was the beginning of a lasting friendship with Jacklin, it led to a future golf course and business opportunity for the two of them with The Concession Golf Club near Sarasota, Florida, and it forever impacted the reputation and legacy of the Golden Bear with the golfing public.

In this inspiring golf story, we see an example of how a man went against the trend and expectations of the world to deny himself for the good of something greater than himself. And even though officially Mr. Nicklaus chose to tie, we get a tangible example of him choosing to lose.

You also have done this in your life. By putting a portion of your income aside to save for retirement, by carving out time to exercise or denying yourself dessert at the end of a meal, or by investing time and energy into your children outside of your career pursuits, you have chosen to lose for the purpose of delayed gratification.

When this concept is brought up in our spiritual lives, however, we often grow very uncomfortable. We read in Mark 8 where Jesus told his followers to turn from their selfish ways and to take up their cross and follow him. We must, he taught, give up our life for his sake if we want to save our life. Seeing that, we quickly want to go to the other areas of Jesus’ teaching that give us more of the warm and fuzzy feelings.

Why is it that many of us practice delayed gratification in our health, fitness, financial, relational, and work lives, but when it comes to following the Savior we balk? We rationalize our need for comfort and security and the pleasures of the world and snuggle up in an artificial comfort blanket of morality and good works in comparison to others.

As Christians we intellectually claim to have a Savior who died on the cross for our souls. There was, we recognize, vast measures of pain in that. Yet we aren’t willing to give up things that take away our comfort or greatly inconvenience our lives for sake of the Gospel. Is it possible that we just don’t know what winning in the long run looks like in God’s eyes and we’re afraid to trust that our heavenly Father really has our best in mind?

If you feel less eternally rich than you do rich in this world, it may be because you are putting God in a box that is limited by your experiences rather than in faithful trust of his Word. I don’t know exactly what winning it looks like in the end either, but each day I turn things over it feels more tangible. I have a feeling if the outcome for Jack Nicklaus was pretty good when he simply chose to tie at the Ryder Cup, then the blessing will be great if I choose to lose for my Lord!

Josh Nelson
March 11, 2014
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The Links Daily Devotional appears Monday-Friday at www.linksplayers.com.