Summary: What are some things that Jesus wants us to put into practice (Matthew 7:24) so that we can present attractive bait?
Sermon for 8/24/2003
Practice Makes Perfect
A. I play basketball on Monday nights with Dean. I am not a great player. I do it to keep my figure.
B. This past Monday we started out with 30 guys. Some of them got frustrated and left. We began at 6:45 and at 7:30 we had gotten down to 20. About that time a person came in who we haven’t seen very much. I told him that he would have to wait until 8 pm before he could get a game. He waited and at 8 pm he got to play. He wasn’t very good and he had trouble getting up and down the court. He was short and stocky and played like a point guard. His team passed him the ball a few times and he made bad passes. That game was over and by this time we only had enough for 5 on 5, everyone else had left. We played to 21 whereas most of the time we played to 15. It was the last game of the night.
C. This fellow I have been talking about played the last game. He did worse this time than the game before. His teammates were getting on him about throwing the ball away and passing it to the other team. One of his teammates made it point to holler out that he would not get the ball as long as he wasn’t playing defense. He was guarding me and I hadn’t scored a point. Yes, I was beating him up and down the court but I wasn’t doing anything with it. My team decided to take me off of guarding this guy and instead double teaming a big inside player. His team had decided not to pass him the ball. Toward the end of the game, this fellow was wide open and they did pass him the ball but he traveled with it. This time his team was all over him with words of ridicule. This fellow’s team won the game but I could tell that this man was not feeling a sense of victory.
D. I wanted to go over and tell him to keep trying, keep coming back and he would get better. I felt sorry for him. However, I went over and said, “Good defense. I hope to see you again.” I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to point out how badly he had done.
E. I remember this and tell it to you because it upset me. It upset me because this man’s teammates were not encouraging him to try. This is one of the first times he has been out playing with us and it is implied that he is not good enough to play. How can he get better? By practicing. How can he practice and get into the game if every time he tries he is ridiculed?
F. It upsets me because this fellow reminds me of myself. I remember going to a basketball camp in the 6th grade and being so ridiculed by my peers that I felt like going home. Thankfully, one of the coaches encouraged me to stay. I remember playing basketball on the practice team in college and I was having a rough day and had made some bad shots and plays and my teammates were on my back. We ran down the court and I ran through the front doors. I ran to my car and I went back to my dorm room and said I was never going to do that again. About a week later a friend encouraged me to go again and so I went.
G. The church can be like that. You are new to the system and to the people, but you make a few bad plays and everyone is on your back. Some people get so disgusted that they leave and never come back. They refuse to try because it is so humiliating. But how can they get better?