Burn the Boats

The following was inspired by a story about Hernan Cortes told by Andy Andrews (from the “In the Loop” Podcast).

In 1519, Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and his band of soldiers faced an impossible task; plunder the Mayans.  For 600 years, no one could defeat them.  Armies with more resources than Cortes tried and failed.

When Cortes’ men sailed ashore, he stayed with them on the beach for days, firing them up with motivational speeches.  He helped them envision how great life would be once they plundered this treasure, he led them in songs to build their confidence, and encouraged them to be wild men of adventure.  It was inspiring, but Cortes knew they needed more than inspiration to win this fight.

He turned to his men and said, “Burn the boats.”  Wait — what?  Some of the men probably thought he was joking, but he was dead serious.  Cortes knew, even after days of inspiration, motivation, and encouragement on this beach, what the men needed most was commitment.

They must burn their own boats so there’s no chance to retreat.  Win or die.  The only way home was on the ships of their enemies.

In Romans 13:14, the apostle Paul writes, “But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.”  Sometimes we make provisions for our flesh by keeping sinful boats around as an escape just in case.

Just in case the fight against pornography gets too difficult, I’ll keep an unfiltered laptop in my house.  Just in case marriage gets too hard, I’ll keep a prenup on file and divorce attorney on call.  Just in case life gets too overwhelming, I’ll keep some beers in the fridge.  Just in case sexual temptation gets too strong, I’ll keep a “friend with benefits” on speed dial.  Just in case life gets too boring, I’ll keep my gossip group on standby.

Burn the boats!  Commit!  When we keep these sinful boats around, we make sin an option.

Jesus said, “If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into Hell.” (Matt. 5:29).  What boats need burning in our lives?  What provisions have we made to fulfill our sinful desires when temptation hits?  It may be an object, a relationship, a routine or tradition, it may be a place.  Whatever it is, don’t let it be a crutch anymore.  Light it up and let it go.

I know it’s scary, but we have Christ and we don’t need it anymore!  Jesus said, “No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62).  When we burn our boats, there’s nothing to look back at, no chance to retreat to our old ways, and that’s a blessing!

It means we’re all in now!  Win or die!  Heaven or hell!  There’s no going back!  There is no in-between! (cf. Matt. 6:24).

Have you ever kept sins around “just in case”?  If so, why do you think we do that?  Share your thoughts below.

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