Knowing when to hold ’em or when to fold ’em

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May 5th, 2010 · by Tom Stuart · Growth & Development, Overcoming

You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em,
Know when to walk away and know when to run.
   Kenny Rogers

It’s important to understand how God uses opposition in our lives and to respond appropriately in faith.   I believe that God is sovereign and that everything that happens to us is filtered through His loving hands.  Opposition comes in many forms.  It can be resistance that we face from people in decisions that we make or things that we undertake to do.  It can be unforeseen circumstances that catch us off guard and hinder us from moving ahead with plans that we have made.

God uses opposition primarily in two ways.  First, He will allow it so that we learn how to fight things through in the Spirit while claiming and defending what belongs to us.  He did that with the Israelites after they settled in the promised land.  He allowed enemies to remain in the land so that He could “teach warfare to generations of Israelites who had no experience in battle.” (Judges 3:1-5)  

In this case it’s all about holding ‘em – standing our ground and fighting for all we are worth for our rightful inheritance.  This is primarily a spiritual battle with spiritual weapons such as prayer, praise, confessions of faith, using the blood and the name of Jesus etc.  If God is telling you to stand your ground, that it is a winnable battle He is calling you to fight, then you had better do just that.  Conquests of faith are not for the faint-hearted.  Some battles take weeks, months or even years to win. Perseverance becomes the byword, but the fight of faith is richly rewarded

Secondly, God allows opposition to force us to move on to new things.  It’s like an eagle dismantling the nest so that the eaglet is forced out in order to learn how to fly on its own.  In Genesis 26, after the death of his father Abraham, Isaac faced that kind of opposition from the Philistines, dramatically jarring his prosperous, comfortable lifestyle. 

The inhabitants of Philistia where Isaac was living envied him and started filling up the wells on which Isaac still relied, those his father Abraham had dug years earlier.  Initially Isaac repeatedly reopened the wells and gave them the same names his father had given them.  But the pesky Philistines kept stopping them up again and again. 

It’s been said that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” (Albert Einstein) 

When that begins to happen we need to seriously ask God if it is time to fold ‘em and walk away.  That is exactly what Isaac did in this setting.  He left there and took the initiative to begin digging his own wells.  But twice, the Philistines came and disputed the ownership of the wells and each time Isaac chose simply to walk away again. 

Finally after digging a third well, he had sufficiently distanced himself from the Philistines.  He named that well Rehoboth which means “now the Lord has given us room.”

The crux of the matter in dealing with opposition comes in having the discernment to know when to hold ‘em and when to “fold ‘em.  Ecclesiastes 3:8 says it a little differently but it means essentially the same thing.  There is “a time for war and a time for peace.”  Wisdom is found in counting the cost and determining when it is worth it to go to war or when seeking peace is the better part of valor. 

My experience personally and in observing others is that most responsible, God-fearing people have a harder time folding ‘em than holding ‘em.  Somehow we equate folding ‘em with giving up and a lack of faith.   As a result we trap ourselves in a well-digging workhouse of own making.  But in reality God is using that opposition to swing open wide the prison door and inviting us to walk away and dig some new wells of our own.

What is your perspective on opposition?  What have you learned?

No Responses to “Knowing when to hold ’em or when to fold ’em”

  1. Dave Rasmussen May 5, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    I have learned to walk away from opposition when it is
    regarding spiritual and moral issues like abortion and
    homosexuality. I will be willing to share my testimony and my
    thoughts on these issues but refuse to be drawn into a debate. Often the opposition wants to draw you into a debate
    to catch you in a heated argument where things may be said
    that you later regret. Which makes us believers look bad.
    When met by opposition I will often look for windows into
    their heart, find some common ground and then give them
    a word of encouragement.

  2. The wisdom of “Counting the Cost” cannot reasonably be challenged. It is the single most important element of facing opposition and involves two important elements.

    First, knowing your enemy and second, knowing yourself. Stepping out in faith, means stepping out with a well considered battle plan. Most military experts will tell you that the single most important factor in winning any battle is to “know your enemy” that keeps him from flanking you, and hedging you in on every side. To do this requires clear, unemotional thinking – that’s where knowing yourself comes in. When faced with opposition we often times find ourselves in an emotional quandary or even a tail spin which can lead to a “Waterloo” on the battlefield. It does not matter whether that battlefield is of the mind, the heart, the boardroom, the bank, the shopping mall or the class room. Battles must be carefully planned and not fought with blind charges of emotionalism, such actions generally lead to disaster, and usually mean a partial or whole victory for the opponent.

    Conquering your emotions can sometimes be a daunting task, particularly when fear is a prominent factor. At such times it is important to “ . . . seek peace and pursue it.“ Psalm 34:14(KJV) One should never “go forth to battle” in any state other than calm, well-informed conviction. The value of reviewing key scriptures to reinforce and renew the mind before you confront opposition is most important. It is helpful to record those verses in your journal somewhere and read them. These are your ammunition against fear, hopelessness, discouragement, anxiety and fear. Keep your weapons close at hand and you will be well prepared to face the opposition and win your battle.