Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Trust Christ with your life today, and let Him make you into the leader He wants you to be. Let Him give you a heart for God. Let Him save your family, and let Him make you a real and genuine Christian on the inside as well as the outside.

Peter Falk (1927-2011), who died just this last June, will always be remembered for the role he played as an eccentric, sloppy detective in the TV series called “Columbo.” More often than not, he played dumb, but that put his subjects off guard, and he was always able to solve his cases as a result.

In real life Peter Falk had a glass eye, resulting from an operation to remove a cancerous tumor when he was 3. In spite of his missing eye, he was a high school athlete. In one story he liked to tell, after being called out at third base during a baseball game, he removed his eye and handed it to the umpire.

“You'll do better with this,” he said. (Bruce Weber, “Peter Falk, Rumpled and Crafty Actor in Television's ‘Columbo,’ Dies at 83,” The New York Times, 6-24-11; www.PreachingToday.com)

Sometimes, we look at some of our leaders and think, “Something’s missing.” They seem to be lacking a specific quality that would sure help them do a better job.

It makes me wonder sometimes what people think about me as a leader. I mean would somebody be tempted to hand me a glass eye? Do I lack some of the qualities it takes to be a good leader?

It’s a good question to ask ourselves every once in a while: Do I have what it takes to lead people effectively? Or what qualities might I be lacking, which if I had would help me be a better influence on people?

Well, if you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Genesis 38, Genesis 38, where we see why God chose Joseph to lead his tribe and not his older brother, Judah. Judah lacked crucial leadership qualities, and that becomes very clear here as he stands in stark contrast to his younger brother, Joseph.

Genesis 38:1 At that time, Judah left his brothers and WENT DOWN to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah. (NIV, emphasis mine)

It might not be so obvious in the English text, but Judah’s moral decline is very obvious in the Hebrew text. You see, he not only “went down” physically to the southern regions of Canaan. He “went down” morally in his own life to “stay.” Now that word for “stay” literally means “to turn aside,” and it is used in many other Old Testament contexts to speak of those who “turn aside from the path of righteousness” (Exodus 23:2; Judges 9:3; 1 Samuel 8:3; Job 31:7). That’s Judah here. He has rejected his godly heritage and is turning aside to the ways of this world.

Genesis 38:2-5 There Judah met the daughter of a Canaanite man named Shua (which means “affluence”). He married her and lay with her; she became pregnant and gave birth to a son, who was named Er (which means “to arouse oneself”). She conceived again and gave birth to a son and named him Onan (which means “manly vigor, speaking of the potency of his sperm). She gave birth to still another son and named him Shelah. It was at Kezib that she gave birth to him. (NIV)

“Shelah” means “to be at ease” or “to be prosperous,” and “Kezib,” the town where they stayed, literally means deceit. Judah’s whole life was a lie as he turns aside from his godly heritage to pursue a life of wealth and pleasure.

He compromised with the world around him, and that disqualified him as a leader. He was seduced by the surrounding Canaanite culture. He was led astray from his pursuit of God into pursuing sex and money, so much so that he was unable to lead anybody to the right path. In fact, he had gone so far off the path that there was no way he could lead anybody on the path.

His worldly attitudes and actions disqualified him for effective leadership, and it still disqualifies people today. When we pursue wealth and pleasure rather than God, then we have no business trying to help people with their own lives.

Ken Wales is a TV and film producer, who has produced several, award-winning TV series and films, including Christy, East of Eden and the highly-acclaimed movie Amazing Grace.

Wales has enjoyed tremendous success as a producer, but he started his Hollywood career as an unemployed actor.

Early in his career, Wales chose to turn down a significant role because it conflicted with his faith in Christ. While he was under contract with MGM, he was cast for a film starring Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, and Shirley MacLaine. At one point in the script, his character enticed a young woman to get drunk so he could take advantage of her. Wales described his decision to decline the role:

“I had been speaking to a lot of church groups and conventions around the country on the subject of making right choices. So when I read…the script…I had to meet with the director, Vincente Minnelli, to tell him I couldn't do it. He told me, ‘You'll do it, or you'll be out of your contract, you'll go on suspension, you'll have no salary for a year, and I'll see that you never work in this town again.’ I told him he'd have to find someone else, and he literally threw me out of his office.

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