Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: God will give us a second chance but we may always be identified with the sin we commit by running the wrong way from God’s will.


by Pastor Jim May

If you are a sports fan may remember the story of how, on New Year’s Day in 1929, Georgia Tech played the University of California in the annual Rose Bowl football game. In that game a man named Roy Riegels, the center of the California football team, recovered a fumble.

In all the excitement and pressure of the moment, Reigels became confused and began running the wrong way. One of his teammates, Benny Lom, saw what was happening and ran with all his might, overtook Reigels and tackled him just before he could cross the goal line and score for the opposing team.

This was during the first half. Everyone was wondering what Coach Nibbs Price would do with Roy Riegels in the second half. During the half-time break Riegels sat alone in a corner, wrapped a blanket around his shoulders, put his hands in his face and cried like a baby.

Three minutes before the start of the second half Coach Price looked at the team and said, "Men, the same team that played the first half will start the second."

Riegels never moved. The coach called him and again he never moved. Coach Price went over to where Riegels sat and said, "Roy, didn’t you hear me? The same team that played the first half will start the second."

Reigels said, "Coach, I can’t do it to save my life. I’ve ruined you. I’ve ruined the University of California. I’ve ruined myself. I couldn’t face that crowd in the stadium to save my life."

Then Coach Price reached out and put his hand on Riegels’ shoulder and said, "Roy, get up and go on back, the game is only half over."

Roy Reigels went back in and there has never seen a man play football as Roy Riegels played that second half. Sadly though, he was never able to overcome the nickname that he had earned by that one mistake on the field. He was forever known as “Wrong Way Reigels”.

I know that life isn’t fair and that sometimes we really make some dumb mistakes. All too often, one single mistake, one act of rebellion, or one moment of sin and failure will stay with us for the rest of our lives. We will be forever branded and known by the mistake that we made.

Have you ever made a mistake that you can’t live down? Is there something in your life that happened, maybe even a long time ago; something that you wish you could take back or forget, but your friends and family just won’t let you do it.

Most of the time those mistakes are made in times of confusion and not knowing really what to do, and we just do something really dumb. But there are times when the mistakes are made because of the choice that we make to be rebellious against what we know is the right thing to do and we just refuse to do it anyway. It’s when we live in that state of rebellion that we often commit an act of sin, or make a mistake, that will live with us forever.

It may even be etched into our tombstone like some of the ones you can find in cemeteries right now.

For example, here are a few of the tombstones that I found. Each one of them tells of a man or woman who made a single mistake, but their lives will ever be associated with that one instant in life.

Here lies Lester Moore, Four slugs from a forty-four, No Les - No More.

Here lays Butch, We planted him raw, He was quick on the trigger, But slow on the draw.

Here lies a man named Zeke, Second fastest draw in Cripple Creek

Here lies the body of our Anna, Brought to death by a banana. It wasn’t the fruit that laid her low, but the skin of the thing that made her go.

Here lies Harry Smith – He Looked up the elevator shaft to see if the car was on the way down. It was.

Here lies the body of Jonathan Blake. He stepped on the gas Instead of the brake.

There are a number of people in the Bible whose mistake (let’s call it what it is – a sin of rebellion) has forever branded them. It doesn’t matter how much they eventually accomplished for the Kingdom of God, they are forever known by the one time in life that they failed so miserably.

What about Samson – he is forever identified as revealing the secret of his power to Delilah and then ending his life in one last show of strength as he brought down the house where the Philistines were having their party.

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