Winning on the Inside Part 1

Winning on the Inside Part 1

January 24, 2014 at 10:16 AM

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The Outer Game and the Inner Game

 

Throughout life we face both the inner and outer game. The one on the outside is obvious and visible, how well we do in life, sport, achievements, finances, success, gifts and talents, and the hugely over emphasised outward appearance. This is the game that everyone sees, but the other game is who we are on the inside, our attitudes, character, fruit of the Spirit, integrity and so on. This side of our game is not nearly so visible, and there are certain aspects of it we keep well hidden. Jealousy, pride, bitterness, anger are some of the things we try to hide, and though some of it is apparent to others a lot of it is kept tightly under wraps.

 

Take a minute to ask yourself if you admire or like the person you’re becoming in the inner game?

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18

16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day.

17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory,

18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

 

Of course, one way or another, the outer man wastes away, “old man wrinkle” will catch up with him somewhere along the line, not so with the inner man. “Old man wrinkle” can’t touch him, so he’s worth developing.

 

A man who was in the final stages of cancer was weak, incapacitated, and emaciated to the point of looking like nothing more than skin and bone. Then he was dropped when someone was lifting him and his hip was broken. Because he was in such a bad way nothing could be done about the broken hip so it just added to his pain and incapacity. Despite all this he remained a very pleasant and popular man. One morning when asked how he was, he replied, “the outer man is perishing but the inner man is getting stronger every day”. How true, outwardly he was perishing rapidly but inwardly he seemed to be in great shape.

 

A Matter of Focus

 

As human beings we have a problem because the outer man is what we see so we tend to put most of our time, energy, and money into making sure the outside, our physical appearance, home, job and so on, looks good. Likewise we can easily neglect the inner man because that side of us is largely unseen. Yes, we do need to take good care of the outer man but at the same time we need to make sure we don’t neglect the inner game.

 

1 Samuel 16:7

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

 

As we live in this world how can we learn not to be overly focussed on the outer man and more focussed on the inner man, which is not seen? One key is to ask ourselves who are we really trying to impress, others, ourselves, or God?

 

It helps to have an eternal perspective on life, to live with a growing awareness of the things that are unseen and of another life after this one. Remember the Apostle Paul, his outer man had taken a battering. He’d been beaten, stoned and left for dead, whipped, shipwrecked, hungry, locked up in prison, and his eyesight was failing. He didn’t have a super healthy lifestyle and I don’t think the prison food was overly nutritious. But maybe he was thinking, well, it doesn’t bother me that much, my time of departure is at hand, I’m ready to go and there are rewards waiting for me. All that really matters now is what’s on the inside, that’s what will last throughout eternity. Outwardly I’m dying a little every day, but inside I’m coming to life, faith is growing, love’s getting stronger, my attitudes are becoming more godly all the time, I have more hope and more joy than I used to have. Yes, the outer man was perishing but Paul had won the inner game.

 

Consider the story of Etty. Etty was a brilliant young Dutch girl who ended up in a concentration camp, the outer world was reduced to the bare basics of human existence, it was dreadful, but she had a kind word for everyone, and amazingly, the more she lost of the outer game, the more she was humiliated and demeaned physically, the more her inner person grew. At one point she wrote this prayer. “Sometimes when I stand in some corner of the camp, my feet planted on your earth, my eyes raised towards your heaven, tears run down my face, tears of deep emotion and gratitude.”

 

The victories and trophies and prizes that really matter are not the ones on our shelves at home, not the complimentary words on our CVs, what really matters is the person we’ve become on the inside. That’s what we take into eternity with us.



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