Am I A Pawn?


It was 6th grade English, Mr. Lumpsten’s class, where I was introduced to chess. Somewhat strange now thinking back. Mr. Lumpsten, a little eccentric in his own right, taught us chess when we should have been instructed on the finer points of proper grammar. Maybe this is why to this day I have difficulty with tenses, run on sentences and the like. But, that is a story for another day.

So, we were taught chess. A lot of chess. And I still like the game.

The game of chess is a universally renowned game that transcends cultural and language barriers. Chess tournaments are held throughout the world and it even has its own international governing body, the FIDE (Fédération Internationale des Échecs).

All that being said, it is not known if the inventor of chess considered any spiritual implications of the game or not, but interesting enough there are many. And it is the lowly pawn that we want to investigate here.

The name “pawn” in our world is given a proverbial “bad rap”. Being called a “pawn” or to be accused of being used as a pawn draws negative connotations.

But, let’s step back here for a moment and considered just what this humble creature means within the context of a game of chess and how one can relate that into a spiritual context. You might be surprised to see just how significant this guy really is. Let’s take a look.

Only Forward Until The End

Of all time he pieces on the chessboard, the pawn is the only piece that cannot move backwards. The king, queen, bishop, knight and the rook all have the ability to retreat and move in reverse.

Not the pawn. The word ‘retreat’ does not exist in the pawn’s vocabulary. The pawn understands only one directional mandate – forward. When standing in the face of fire, it just has to stand there and take it.

Is this not like God’s people? We are called not to retreat, but to move onward.

What does God’s Word say about this?

Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2

For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand.
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith:
II Timothy 4:7-7

Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Notice the armor is missing back protection – retreat not an option) Ephesians 6:13-17

I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Philippians 3:14

Strength In Numbers

Standing on the front line of defense, the eight pawns on each side of the board outnumber any one single piece and are equal in number to all of the other pieces (of the same color) combined. Pawns are both defensive and offensive weapons for the player.

Pawns can be positioned to unravel an opponents strategy or be sacrificed to re-calibrate one’s own attack plan. Unlike the other pieces, loosing a pawn or two is rarely catastrophic. The battle will go on. There is strength in numbers.

What does God’s Word say about this?

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me. Micah 7:8

Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken. Ecclesiastes 4:11-12

Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! Psalms 133:1

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved. Acts 2:46-47

Lowly, Yet Noble In Stature

Of all the chess pieces, the pawn is physically the smallest and the least ordinate of all  others. Its diminished size, nondescript and smooth contours are not eye-catching or brazenly attractive. A pawn is just plain, plain.

What does God’s Word say about this?

And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted. Matthew 23:12

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Philippians 4:12

Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel;
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price.
I Peter 3:3-4

Unmistakable Authority

The pawn is privileged with another unique attribute, its conquering power. Even though the pawn is limited in mobility and directional prowess, it employs as much offensive ‘punch’ when confronting a piece with greater authority. The pawn can capture a queen as easily as its near kin, the bishop.

A lowly pawn can clinch a match and be used to checkmate the opponent.

What does God’s Word say about this?

And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and ofJephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
Hebrews 11:32-34

And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.
And Samson said, With the jawbone of an ass, heaps upon heaps, with the jaw of an ass have I slain a thousand men.  Judges 15:15-16

And the LORD said unto Moses, Wherefore criest thou unto me? speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward:
But lift thou up thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the sea, and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.
Exodus 14:15-16

Transformational Power

The last and most spectacular feature the pawn enjoys is something not shared with the other pieces.

The only chess piece that upon advancing as far as it can go to the extreme opposite side of the chessboard is afforded a most unusual and uncanny privilege – the power of transformation.

That is right. The pawn can be exchanged by the player for any other piece previously captured. The pawn can be transformed into a queen, rook, bishop or knight.

Oftentimes, this power exchange is a game changer.

For a game of chess to progress to the point where a pawn can safely reach the opposite side of the board normally means both players have exhausted their arsenal and are down to their last couple of pieces.

For one player to suddenly be empowered and energized with a new piece high in authority normally turns the tide to his or her favor.

What does God’s Word say about this?

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
I Corinthians 15:51-52

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:2

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. Acts 1:8

In Conclusion

Only Forward Until The End
Strength In Numbers
Lowly, Yet Noble In Stature
Unmistakable Authority
Transformational Power

Am I a pawn? I am in the midst of a situation resembling one or more of the characteristics of this piece of chess? Hold on. Just keep moving forward. Don’t retreat or go backwards. The end is near. Your transformation is about to take place.

And just maybe being a pawn is not so bad after all.

Am I a Pillar or a Pedestal?

And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be
pillars, perceived the grace thatpillar 4 was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Galatians 2:9

The New Oxford dictionary defines a “pedestal” as: “the base or support on which a statue, obelisk or column is mounted. A position in which someone is greatly or uncritically admired.”

The New Oxford dictionary defines a “pillar” as: “a tall vertical structure of wood, stone or metal, used as a support for a building. A person or thing regarded as reliably providing essential support for something.”

A further look into how these two words weave themselves into the church is worth further inspection and investigation.

Let’s take a peek at how they each differ in function, purpose and meaning.

1) Pedestals are used to lift people up. Pillars are used to lift churches up.

2) Pedestals are used to put individuals on display. Pillars are used to put God on display.

3) Remove a pedestal and one person is affected. Remove a pillar and everyone is affected.

4) Pedestals are only useful when looked upon by others. Pillars are just as useful when no one sees them.

5) Remove a pedestal and no one notices. Remove a pillar and everyone notices.

6) Pedestals will not move by themselves. Pillars cannot move by themselves.

7) Pedestals provoke trouble. Pillars prevent trouble.

As the opening scripture reveals, the early church had their share of spiritual pillars.
Unfortunately, the church also had its dealings with pedestals:

I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not.

Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church.
III John 1:9-10

May we work on getting ourselves “out of God’s way” and only allow His glory to shine through us.

A man of God said the following powerful words in addressing so-called “pedestals” and “pillars” in the church:

The definition of false ministry is me using God to change people’s opinion of me. (a pedestal)

“The definition of true ministry is God using me to change people’s opinion of Him.” (a pillar)

What true and powerful statements.

“Lord, in your eyes am I a Pillar or am I a Pedestal? And dear Jesus, it does not so much matter what I look like on the outside. Only that it is you they see shining through from the inside”.

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminenceColossians 1:18  
Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.  Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others. Philippians 2:3-4 


On Praying & Giving

Sometimes it seems that all you appear to be doing is praying and giving. Simply….. praying and giving. Not very earth-shattering and heaven attention-getting work. Seemingly so. But, it seems God sees it differently from the way we do.

Events in the life of a man named Cornelius are recorded in the tenth chapter of the Book of Acts. Apparently, Cornelius took this prayer and giving thing to heart. Day after day, month after month Cornelius prayed and gave. No heavenly acknowledgment, no earthly rewards. Just praying and giving. He did it faithfully without regret, bitterness or hesitation. There is an endless well from which to draw when you truly give from the heart. No end. Bottomless. Just praying and giving.

However, heaven was watching, silently, and in the shadows. Every prayer, every tear, every shekel unselfishly given to the needy was being tabulated and recorded. The account entries became so numerous that it got heaven’s attention. Jesus took notice of it and had to do something about it. You see, kings take notice of such things. When exemplary things happen on earth, human actions that are done out of humility, sincerity and with pure motive, eventually get the attention of kings from both heaven and earth.

A similar circumstance is recorded in the Book of Ester surrounding king Ahasuerus and a man named Mordecai. The king learned that an unassuming servant foiled an assassination plot against him. No acknowledgment, no bonus, no pay raise, no Cross fountain pens, nothing. But that was also about to change. Again, by way of divine intervention, we find at the book’s conclusion the refused and humble servant  Mordecai was elevated to second in command to the king while rising from obscurity to palace prominence.

Now let’s get back to Cornelius. Jesus dispatched a heavenly host to Cornelius’ prayer room. That’s right. Just when you think heaven is not taking notice the unexpected arrives from God’s war room. Angels. Visions. Divine presence. Heaven’s light. It all appeared to a man named Cornelius because of praying and giving.

The message was simple but strange (as it is most of the time when God interrupts our lives). Send for a guy named Peter in Joppa who is hanging out with a guy named Simon. Just in case the folks in Joppa don’t know which Simon you’re talking about, it’s the Simon in town who has the leather business by the sea. Only one in town that fits that description. That’s right. When God moves in your life He will get all the facts, pieces and directions just right to complete the job.

The rest they say is history. A memorial was built in heaven through the seemingly unnoticed and humble acts of praying and giving.  Cornelius’ faithfulness resulted in the release of God’s blessings upon the rest of us ‘Gentiles’. For God’s Spirit was poured out for the first time on non-Jewish believers in honor of one individual’s persistence.

Never think that your humble acts of praying and giving are unnoticed. Heaven is taking account. You may be the next Cornelius for your family, your church, your friends, your co-workers, your community or your world.

Your memorial is growing. Your visit from heaven is coming. Maybe today, perhaps next month or maybe five years from now. But, know for sure that your faithfulness is getting God’s attention. And the King of glory will show up when you least expect it.

How is your memorial looking today?

And when he looked on him, he was afraid, and said, What is it, Lord? And he said unto him, Thy prayers and thine alms are come up for a memorial before God. Acts 10:4