Summary: This sermon explores how we can be morally excellent people. It includes the true story of the Christian man who is credited with inventing the sport of football.

A Super Bowl Sermon

2 PETER 1:5-11

5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge,

6to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness,

7to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love.

8For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins.

10Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble;

11for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Well, this is Super Bowl Sunday!

Late this afternoon,

the New England Patriots meet the New York Giants

for the Championship of the National Football League.

This will be the 42nd Super Bowl game.

The focus today will be on some excellent football players.

I’d like to say that all of these men are godly men…

But that would not be true.

Some of them are living with women without being married.

Some of them have fathered children out of wedlock!

Some of them are great football players…

But you wouldn’t want your son to live like they do!

Some of them are morally corrupt!

There are a few players in today’s big game…

Who have not been afraid to speak up about their faith in Jesus.

On the New England Patriots,

Rosevelt Colvin, Kyle Brady, and Heath Evans

have publicly professed their faith in Christ.

On the New York Giants,

David Tyree continues to testify of what Jesus means to him.

Now, I’m not saying that all the other players in today’s game

are not “born again” Christians.

But it would be great if more than just these 4 players

were more willing to speak up for Jesus

and live a life that is a good witness to the Lost.

We need more men of “moral excellence” or “virtue”…

Not only on the football field, but also in our churches!

In our Bible text this morning,

Peter calls for excellence in our moral character.

The Greek word for "moral excellence" or "virtue" is "aretes."

Understanding how the word “aretes” was used

helps us understand how we might be men of moral excellence.

Allow me to tell you about the man

who is credited with inventing the sport of football.

Amos Alonzo Stagg was born in 1862 in West Orange, New Jersey, during the early stages of the Civil War. His devotion to hard work produced success both in the classroom and on the athletic fields during his youth. At the same time, he sharpened his spiritual obedience in the Presbyterian church. Acting on the guidance of trusted mentors—his pastor, Sunday school teacher, and sister—Stagg enrolled at Yale University intent on becoming a Presbyterian minister. There Stagg excelled at baseball and football, earning recognition on the first All-American football team. His pitching abilities secured him lucrative offers from Major League baseball clubs, but the sport’s hard-drinking reputation and his love for amateur competition persuaded him to pass it by. He still wanted to become a pastor, but Stagg struggled to express his faith in front of large groups. Stagg was a quiet man who spoke with a soft voice. During one conference in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, he eavesdropped on legendary university evangelist John Mott, who asked an associate why Stagg "simply can’t make a talk."

Stagg had no such problems living his faith, however, and decided to pursue coaching. He accepted his first job out of college in 1888 as head football coach at the School of Christian Workers, a YMCA training school in Springfield, Massachusetts. Anchoring the center of his offensive line was none other than James Naismith, another Christian sports innovator. Naismith bounced his ideas about the new game of "basketball" off Stagg, who was prevented by a prior engagement from playing in that sport’s landmark first game.

When the 30-year-old Stagg was offered the head-coaching position at the University of Chicago in 1892, he told the university president, "After much thought and prayer, I decided that my life can best be used for my Master’s service in the position you have offered."

And that brings me to my first point.

To be a morally excellent man:

Point #1.


The Greek word “aretes” was used to describe anything

that did what it was created to do,

that performed its intended function,

or that fulfilled its proper purpose!

A saw was called "aretes," if it was sharp and cut things well!

A jar called "aretes," if it held water and did not have cracks!

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