What are you willing to give up for your religious beliefs? I dare say that most of us would be willing to give up almost anything for our religious beliefs, at least things that have no attraction for us. For instance, I would gladly give up alcohol and drugs because I have no desire to have either in my life. However, some people would choose the alcohol and drugs because either they enjoy them or they think alcohol and drugs make them look cool. Still others are willing to choose sex, popularity and status over their convictions. What are you willing to sacrifice for your convictions?
Joel Northup was willing to give up a state championship for his religious beliefs. Northup, a sophomore in high school, refused to wrestle his first round opponent in the Iowa high school state tournament last week. His reason for forfeiting the match was because his first round opponent was a girl. Joel Northup felt that wrestling with a girl would conflict with his religious beliefs, because he would most likely have to touch her in inappropriate places.
I don’t know about you, but I have a lot of respect for this young man. He was willing to forfeit a match that he was favored to win, because of his religious beliefs. By refusing to wrestle, Joel single handedly sacrificed his shot at a state title, something for which all athletes on the high school level strive. A lot of people probably thought he was crazy. Why sacrifice something so big like a state title for something so little as a religious belief? I mean, it’s not like he was going to intentionally touch and grope this girl. He was just going to compete against her as he would any other opponent on the mat.
When you read through scripture you find others who were willing to give up things of value and places of superiority for their beliefs and convictions. Take Joseph for example. While in Egypt his master’s wife pleaded with him to sleep with her. I have no doubts that Potiphar’s wife was very attractive. After all, Potiphar was an Egyptian officer in Pharaoh’s army. He was an important person in Egypt. However, instead of giving in to her advances, Joseph refused her day after day. Listen to what Joseph said, “How then could I do this great evil and sin against God?” (Gen. 39:9) Joseph was willing to give up sexual pleasure in order to remain true to His God.
Daniel is another example who was willing to sacrifice something most would consider important because of his convictions. Daniel was taken captive by the Babylonians, when they invaded Judah around 605 BC, for the purpose of serving in the king’s court. In time Daniel became an important figure in the Babylonian empire. Each time a new king took the throne Daniel always found favor in his eyes. In chapter 6 Daniel refused to obey a decree to only pray to the king and not any other god or man for thirty days. Daniel was sentenced to the lion’s den. However, we tend to overlook that before this situation occurred, the king was planning to appoint Daniel over the entire kingdom (Dan. 6:3). Daniel was willing to give up prominence in the kingdom for his convictions and beliefs.
This list could go on and on. Shadrach, Meshach and Abed-nego were willing to give up their lives for their convictions (Dan. 3). All the apostles were willing to give up the pleasures of life for their convictions. Many of the early Christians were willing to sacrifice all they had for their convictions. Many men and women throughout history have been willing to give up pleasure and prominence for their convictions.
What are you willing to give up for your convictions? Joel Northup was willing to sacrifice the Iowa high school state wrestling championship because of his religious beliefs. Jesus said, “If any man will come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Me” (Matt. 16:24). I hope and pray each one of you reading this is willing to give up and sacrifice everything that gets in the way of your relationship with God. In the end, that’s all that truly matters in life. Jesus said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).
What are you willing to give up in order to stay true to your convictions? Are you willing to sacrifice something as big as a state title? Joel Northup was!
Now that’s Something to Think About!