Summary: This sermon deals with how we can go through life and miss the real meaning of it all which is to follow Jesus Christ.
The Winning Loser
Have you ever been to a game, in which your team won the on the field but lost on the scoreboard. In football, a field is 100 yards long divided into two 50 yard halves. The numbers go from 0 to 50 and back down to 0 again. The closer you get to scoring, the lower the yard number is.
The goal in football is to travel downfield and cross the 0 yard line into the end zone. It does not matter if you run 100 yards to score or if you run 1 yard to score, it still counts six points. It is possible for you to have a total of 450 yards offense and the other team to have 4 yards of offense, and they win the game 12 to 0. The difference is that they used two yards twice to get into the end zone, whereas you spent your time simply going up and down the field looking good.
The winning loser is the team that looks very impressive in action on the field running plays left and right. They get first downs. They have long passes and break away runs, but they never manage to score a touchdown. They have impressive stats. They have racked up a huge number of yards between the 20 yard lines. But they lose the game 12-0 because they never crossed the goal line.
There are so many people living their lives between the 20 yard lines. They really look impressive as they rack up things. They’ve got prestige, they’ve got popularity, they’ve got fine clothes and nice cars, they have beautiful homes, and power jobs. We look at them and we admire them. Some of us practically worship them. And we know they’re winning the game of life or it sure seems like they are.
Jesus talked about one of them in our New Testament reading. Let’s call the guy Nate. Nate was making money left and right. All his investments were turning to gold. Nate was surprised at just how good things were this early in his life. His company was too small to expand any larger under its current structure.
Nate came up with an expansion plan that would allow him to double and perhaps quadruple the amount of money he had. Nate said to himself, “Nate ole boy, you’ve done pretty good for yourself. You’ve got enough money laid away to take you way into retirement. Son it’s time for you to take like easy, enjoy the fine restaurants, drink the good wine, and just be happy with your life.”
Nate looked up his lawyer’s phone number to tell him to draw up the new corporation papers, but at the last minute he decided to wait until tomorrow. He went to sleep and a visitor from heaven spoke to him saying “you fool, tonight is the very night your life will be required of you. Who’s going to get all that money you were planning to spend.” Before Nate could say, “but I’ll change had a massive heart attack and died that night. Jesus said, “this is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself, but is not rich toward God.”
Now some people think Nate’s mistake was that he had a lot of money. No, that’s not right. Nate could have had a billion dollars or he could have had a $1,000 and still made the same mistake. Nate’s mistake was that he focused on his own wealth and his own enjoyment. When Jesus told the story, in the Greek the word “my” shows up four times and the word “I” appears eight times. Nate’s joy came from the things he accumulated, but he discovered things do not last forever. Nate was a winning loser. He had the stats, but the game clock was running out and he had not scored any points. But he sure had a lot of nice things said about him at his funeral.
If you were like Nate, and had to die tonight, what possession do you own that you would try to make an impression on God with by talking to God about it. Anybody tempted to say, “God look at this beautiful diamond ring”, “God look at my expensive suit”, or “God look at my house. It’s the bomb.” Only a fool would think God could be impressed by something so trivial in His presence. However, most of us would feel pretty good if we could say something to God about how we used that item in His service or on his behalf to others. “Lord you blessed me with that Benz and every Sunday I made sure I picked up somebody who couldn’t have made it to church without a ride.”