There’s the snap. The hold looks good. The kick, it’s . . . it’s no good! The ball hits the left upright AND the crossbar. The game is over. My local NFL team lost a tough playoff game because of a missed 43 yard field goal or was there something else that lost the game?
Did every single player play a perfect game? What about the penalties that kept the opponent’s drive alive? What if the Offense could have converted on third down more? What if the Defense made more sacks or recovered a fumble?
The truth is guys, sometimes we look for someone else to blame for our failures. We don’t want to admit that WE failed. Are you familiar with the term harmartia? It’s Greek to me. No really, it is. This Greek word, harmartia, is where we get the English word “Sin”. It means to miss the mark or to violate God’s Law. Sin is an old archery term. If an archer did not hit the bullseye, the judge would yell “Harmartia”! or “Sin” ! to let the person know they missed the mark.
I love archery! There is something therapeutic about firing an arrow down range at a target. My skill level is normally average, but with regular practice, I am above average. Fortunately, in archery competition today, there isn’t a judge yelling “Sinner”! every time you miss!
There are several things that can prevent an errant arrow in archery:
1. Proper Stance - Line up your toes 90° perpendicular to the Target Line with your feet shoulder width apart.
2. Proper Grip on the Bow - Pick up the bow with your less dominant hand and press the fleshy lower half of your palm against the backside of the bow grip. Wrap your fingers loosely around the front of the bow grip. Too tight of a grip on the bow may result in an errant arrow trajectory.
3. Drawing String Back - Extend your bow hand toward the target but do not lock the elbow. Draw the bowstring back using your dominant hand.
4. Anchor Point - Pull back the bowstring until it touches the tip of your nose or the corner of your mouth, whichever is more comfortable for you. Whichever way you choose, be consistent. This step is very important for accuracy.
5. Aim - With the dominant eye open, close the other eye.
6. Release - If you are using a release aid, pull finger slowly and firmly on the trigger of the mechanical release. Don’t “punch” the trigger anticipating the shot. If you are using fingers to release string, slowly allow bowstring to roll off fingertips.
7. Follow-through - Your draw hand should be relaxed near or behind your ear. Keep aiming with your bow hand until after the arrow hits the target.
8. Practice - You need to build up and tone the muscles used in archery. As in golf, muscle memory is important. The less you have to think about the mechanics the more accurate you will become.
In archery, when we miss the mark or “Sin”, the consequences are insignificant. We might lose the competition. With the reality of life, the consequences of unrepentant sin are very significant. Let’s use examples of Archery Disciplines to give practical analogies of good Spiritual Disciplines.
1. Look at the target. To avoid sinning (violating God’s Law), we need to be looking at the perfect target. Our goal is to mimic Jesus and to become more like Him, because He is our Savior. Proverbs 4:25 says, “Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you.”
2. Get a proper grip. What are you holding on to so tightly - your sin or God’s promises? You cannot receive the blessings God has for you with open hands, if your hands are clamped down on what the world has to offer. Proverbs 28:13 tells us that whoever hides his sin will not prosper, but he who confesses his sin will obtain mercy.
3. Where is your anchor point? What keeps you from being pulled off course by the world’s storms? Hebrews 6:19 tells us that as Christians, we have a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. It provides security and stability. This “anchor” is in the person and the saving work of Jesus Christ. True Christians can have complete assurance of salvation. Romans 10:9, 10 says, “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
4. Practice your faith. To hit the mark more consistently, you have to practice your faith. This could include such things as: Praying, Reading the Bible daily, Accountability with a Christian brother, Participate in a Small Group at a local church, Participate in Personal Ministry such as: Mentoring a newer Believer or leading a Small Group, Serving the community or a local church.
Just to be clear, doing these Spiritual Disciplines won’t get you into Heaven, but they will help prevent you from missing the mark along the way. We will mess up, but take heart guys. Ephesians 2:8,9 tells us it is God’s gift of grace that we can be saved through our faith and not what we do. No end zone dancing because we are so great, but dancing because God is so great.
Now that is a perfect bulls eye!