There is another great principle I’ve learned from the story of Noah’s Ark. It sort of states the obvious, are you ready: Build on High Ground. While this might seem pretty obvious, there is great truth in this principle. In looking more closely, I believe this is actually two smaller truths: 1) When you have a choice to make in life, take the higher ground and choose the path that reflects character, and 2) It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where and how you finish.
1) When you have a choice to make in life, take the higher ground and choose the path that reflects character. You see, there are two seemingly difficult goals in this world. One is to make a good name for yourself, and the other is to keep your good name. Someone else put it this way, “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” Solomon with all of his wisdom put it this way in Proverbs 21:3, “To do what is right and just is more acceptable to the LORD that sacrifice.”
Maybe you’ve heard the story about the young businessman who just started his own firm. He rented a beautiful office and had it furnished with antiques. Sitting there, he watched a man come into the outer office. Wishing to appear the hot shot, the businessman picked up the phone and started to pretend he had a big deal working. He threw huge figures around and made giant commitments. Finally he hung up and asked the visitor, “Can I help you?” He answered, “Yes, I’ve come to activate your phone lines.” Ouch!
The moral is, if you have a choice, and most of the time we do, take the high ground. The Apostle Paul said, “Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test, but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.” So build your life by building your life on high ground, making decisions of character, doing what is right, because it is right and not just because it is easy.
2) It doesn’t matter where you start, it’s where and how you finish.
Years ago Steve Farrer wrote the book, Finishing Strong, where he affirmed this statement. In life, it doesn’t matter how you start, it matters how you finish. If you study the lives of great leaders, especially those outlined in the scriptures, you see this principle lived out.
Some finished poorly. They were going downhill fast. Some had great impressive starts, but barely finished the race at all. Gideon delivered the nation of Israel from the Midianites in spectacular fashion. He used only 300 warriors to destroy an army of thousands, which was pretty impressive. But years after his great victory, he fell into defeat and despair. Solomon is believed to be the wisest man on the planet. People sought him for his incredible insights and wisdom, but at the end of his time, even he didn’t take his own wisdom and fell into defeat and emptiness.
Some finished 50-50. Not good, not bad. Maybe the most famous was King David. He was and is known as the greatest King and leader in the history of the nation of Israel. Yet, because of many poor decisions and moments of weakness, he lived with a lot of regret and his family was a mess.
Finally, there are those that finished strong. Strong in their faith, in their daily decisions, in their accomplishments, and in their relationships with God and others. Abraham, Job, Joseph, Joshua, Caleb, Samuel, Elijah, Jeremiah, Daniel, John, Paul, and Peter, to name just a few. Lives full of heartache and stress and disappointment and frustration, but they didn’t let their circumstances or feelings get in the way of the right thing to do.
So to encourage you, may I suggest there are two ways to play the game of life. You either play NOT to lose, or you play TO win. To play to win means that you make good decisions based on what is right, what has value. Taking the high ground. When we don’t do that and choose the opposite, we play not to lose. Sometimes you’ll compromise anything not to lose, but when you play to win, you play with zest and zeal, taking risks based on what is right, good, honorable and of value.
So will you choose to take the higher ground?