My reading list this morning included a post that mentioned the idea that some people think of goals and decisions in terms of an opportunity, and some people see them as threats. The idea in the post was that if your perception is “promotion focused” you will pursue the goal as an opportunity to advance and have a higher chance of success. If you are “prevention focused” you will be less willing to take risks and will spend your energy avoiding failure rather than pursuing success.
This reminded me of a class I took many years ago about commodities trading, a fairly dry topic for most of us but stick with me for the moment. In that class we talked a good bit about combining trades so that together they cancelled out the risk, without limiting the potential for profit. Done properly, the down side is gone almost entirely, and there is only up side.
It occurred to me that the “promotion” vs “prevention” idea applies to the way that we approach sanctification. Many of us seek to be holy primarily by avoiding things. We are trying to pursue righteousness by keeping from sin. This approach has some biblical support. Paul in particular tells us to flee from sin. As a primary focus of our Christian lives, however, I think this is misplaced.
In the Christian walk a “promotion focus” is, I think, more advantageous as a primary focus. In fact, Christ has removed the downside for us. All of His promises are true. All of the debt has been removed. Christ became sin for us and we have been assigned Christ’s righteousness. There is no downside apart from sitting still. All too often our approach to following Christ reveals that we do not believe that Christ has accomplished all that is necessary for our salvation, or can not finish the work he has started in us. We’re avoiding a down side that is no longer there.
The upside, on the other hand, is glorious! He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. He has guaranteed our righteous standing before the throne of God. He has given us His Spirit and made us into His temple and body. He has prepared work in advance for us to walk in, and invited us in to participate in His own work and will. He has promised, in fact, that we will do greater works even than Christ did during his Earthly ministry. That is possible because we have His righteousness, His Spirit, His power, all given to us to do His will.
Sure, there are momentary trials, persecution, and hardship. But He has promised to reward us for these, to make all things right. Difficulty in this life is for our growth, and for His glory. There is no downside any more for those who are in Christ!
The warning in the commodities class was that it is possible to get the trades wrong. If you do that, it is possible to eliminate all potential profit and create the opportunity for unlimited losses. This is the situation for those who do not belong to Christ. For them, there is no upside, only loss.
But if you are in Christ, stop living like your goal in life is avoiding risks. Christ has paid the debt already. All of his promises are guaranteed. Eternity is guaranteed. All of His blessings are guaranteed. Live like you believe Him.