Does the name Matt Emmons ring a bell with you? If you are a Summer Olympics fanatic it may cause your eyebrow to curl a little. Or if you have read Kyle Idleman’s book Not A Fan you may remember that he wrote about Matt Emmons. He was one shot away from winning the gold. All he needed was to hit the target in the 50-meter three-position rifle event. Not a bull’s-eye; just be on target. Emmons had a great shot, but he didn’t win the gold. He didn’t win the silver. He didn’t win the bronze. He came in 8th place, because Emmons fired at the wrong target. Standing in lane two, he fired at the target in lane three.
A great shot + the wrong target = 0.
Sometimes I feel like a counterfeit disciple of Jesus Christ. And maybe you feel that way too—like a counterfeit $100 bill. Looks good, feels good, but has no real purchasing power.
The feeling of being a counterfeit probably comes from a tendency to stand in the “Christian lane,” but shoot at the “world’s target.” The world’s target is so distracting. Always clamoring for our attention, “the world offers a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions.” (1 John 2:16, NLT)
In this life, hitting the world’s target counts for nothing. It’s like shooting at a mirage or a hologram—“This world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever” (1 John 2:17, NLT).
Paul gives us some practical advice about hitting the right target in 2 Timothy 2:15. Work hard. Do your best. Just as running the Iron Man requires hard work, just as a marksman trains with discipline if he wishes to compete in the Olympics, living a life for God requires discipline.
Discipline begins with the mind. I have to make up my mind that pleasing God is more important than everything else. Focus. Focus. Focus. Training myself to not be distracted by anything else. There are some things that are not good for me. Discipline means staying away from it. (1 Thessalonians 5:22) Discipline may mean learning to fight the devil on his home field—but doing it with the power of God, not on your own (James 4:7). It’s amazing how quickly Satan backs away from those who choose to have God at their side.
Hitting the right target also means pursuing excellence. Never be satisfied with less than “gold” in this game of life. I usually hit what I am looking at. I think it’s safe to say that if I am not giving my best to God, then I am looking at the world’s target. I have to pursue living each day for God—living it in such a way that I will hear Him say, “Well done!”
Build on truth. The key word is “build.” I have to keep telling myself to MAN UP! When God shows me something about my life that needs correction, then I need to take care of it. Now. When an athlete is going for the gold he/she corrects problems in technique. It can be the difference between gold and silver.
I don’t want to be a great shot. I want to be a great shot who shoots at the right target. Which target are you aiming for?