“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of My Father in heaven. On that day many will say to Me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in Your name, drive out demons in Your name, and do many miracles in Your name?’ Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you! Depart from Me, you lawbreakers!” Matthew 7:21-23, HCSB.
Our middle son works as a referee at the local soccer fields. He attended classes to learn all the rules for the league, passed his certification tests, and then he was issued a uniform and equipment. In the pocket of each of his shirts, he carries a yellow and a red card. In soccer, these cards are used to alert the players, coaches and spectators that a violation of the rules has occurred and the player being carded is first warned, and then penalized for his/her continued rule-breaking. The yellow card is a warning, but the red card carries the consequences of being removed from the game and not being able to play the next one. It is an interesting process: the referee stands in front of the player, pulls the card out of his pocket, and holds it up for everyone to see. Then, the player’s number and infraction is written down and play resumes. Those who were following the rules have nothing to fear from the referee—they play on as if nothing has happened once the referee restarts the game.
There are those in life who think they can play God’s game anyway they want. They do not heed the warnings of Scripture, and they break His rules without any sorrow or regret. But God takes notice when we do not follow His Word, and He sends us warnings—through the Spirit’s conviction, sound preaching, exhortation from others, or through His Word. If we do not heed those warnings, He may have to “red card” us from the field for awhile to get our attention and to bring us back into full fellowship with Him. When He does sideline us, it is because He wants to restore us, but our stubbornness in refusing to follow His rules makes it necessary to pull us out of the game and set us down until we see our need to repent. Better that He do this now in our lives than for us to get to eternity only to hear Him say, “I never knew you.”
We have to play by God’s rules. Not because He is a mean-spirited, legalistic, out-to-get-us God—no, He has given us the rules in His Word so we can navigate the field of opponents and be victorious for His glory!
Thought-provoker: Do you need a red card spiritually, or are you following God’s rules to play your best game for His glory?
Lord, thank You for Your Word, Your rules, Your guidelines, so we can be the best players we can for Your glory! Thank You for the warnings—help us to heed them! Amen.