A Wide Something or Other

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Once there was a high school boy who was taunted mercilessly at school by another boy who was several years older. This younger boy was too big and too strong to be physically bullied, but the older boy would harass him constantly, and would always predict his own dominance in any future settings where there might be a hint of competition. As it happened, they were both on the football team, but they played different positions and so there was no direct conflict—although the older boy would still make constant disparaging comments.

One day the coach took this younger boy aside after practice and said, “I have been watching you very closely, and I think we have you in the wrong spot. I want to move you to wide receiver.”

That was of course the older boy’s position. “Do you want me first string there?” was the obvious question, and the answer was yes. The coach said he was going to talk to the other boy in about an hour, and so the winner of the contest went home stunned. He would not have to face his rival until the next day, but he was still pretty miserable about it.

As soon as he got home, he dumped the whole problem right on the kitchen counter, in front of his mother. “What am I supposed to do?” he said.

His mother said, “I love it when God has me memorize a passage just in time . . . this is what I was working on this morning.

“Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth: Lest the LORD see it, and it displease him, and he turn away his wrath from him” (Prov. 24:17-18).

This means two things. God has given you a victory in this, no question. This text assumes you are supposed to receive it, and seek to preserve it. And the second thing is this: you must receive and protect what God has given to you by refusing to gloat or taunt. You must be gracious to him—not because this reversal for him is wrong, but rather because it is right.”

“It still doesn’t seem like fun,” her son said.

“Well, I say this, not because I think you are likely to gloat, but rather because this verse assumes that God wants His people, when they overcome, to overcome in a certain way. I know you are excited about the promotion, and that you wish it didn’t have to be at his expense. But God has done it, you must preserve it, and this includes the duty of complete gratitude. I know your dad is going to be really excited . . . he was a wide something or other in college, wasn’t he?”

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