Playing Safe

Since Paul in addressing the Corinthians once drew a most telling illustration of spiritual activity from the races in the Isthmian games, it may be permissible to point a similar moral from the modern athletic field. Sometimes nothing less than a phrase culled straight from the common vernacular will suffice to place a given situation squarely before human thought. When one side in a game has obtained the advantage and tries to maintain this advantage without taking any further risks, it is said to be "playing safe." This policy may succeed for a time, but presently the side which continues to "play safe" loses the power of initiative, drops its individuality and activity, and becomes incapable of further effort.

The reason for this effect is simple enough. "Playing safe" is always due to fear, and eventually earns the fruits of fear; and the same is true in regard to the mental battles so prevalent in human life. Men and institutions after reaching an assured position have a way of settling down into a groove of profitless conservation, which is mental dry-rot. They are tempted to leave well enough alone, or to "let sleeping dogs lie," as the saying is, out of a dread of disturbing others or of being disturbed themselves. Thus fear paves the way for greed, personal power, autocracy, and reaction, and the freshness and spontaneity of spiritual progress is effectually blocked.

"Mark the perfect man"
March 24, 1917

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