Last week I began a short series on the what I see as some of the “E”ssentials of true success – victorious living… (things like Execution of the game plan; Ethics; Effort; and Esprit de Corps…). Here is the basic intro again to this series:
“I recently had a discussion with my pastor and he asked me a basic question: “How do you define success or victory in the Christian life? –or- “What does a mature Christian look like?”
That is a loaded question because there are so many things talked about in Scripture on what a victorious / mature believer looks like. Yet many of those things are subjective instead of objective (things that don’t necessarily show up on life’s scoreboard.) I think that is why often churches get caught up in the legalism of defining success as “not participating in the works of the flesh.” That is easier to gauge than things like the fruit of the Spirit, etc.
In sports we tend to look at won-loss records for a season or the scoreboard for a game; yet I have never defined success that way for the teams I coached. (Of course some might say it is because I didn’t often see the positive side of the scoreboard or the win-loss column…)
In all honesty I can say there were times my teams won on the scoreboard yet I didn’t feel victorious; and there were times we lost on the scoreboard but I was beaming with pride! And in all honesty I can say that there have been times in life where I appeared to be “winning” and didn’t feel victorious; and times I appeared to be “losing” but felt incredible pride and contentment in knowing my Lord was pleased…
After all the goal of a minister is to present believers as complete or mature in their walks… (Colossians 1:28)”
This week: Ethics (Fakes, Flops, Doping, Dives, and a Fiddler)
The news is constantly full of stories of athletes getting an edge via questionable means…
I think of the news last season of the NBA cracking down on defensive players flopping; of the recent NFL news of players faking injuries in order to slow down the pace of the game; or the regular news of baseball players and cyclists doping; and even last week hearing about NASCAR radio chatter showing that drivers had manipulated results on the race track by intentionally spinning out and others intentionally taking a dive to allow other drivers to finish higher.
I even read of controversy in the Olympic games – in 388BC a boxer bribed three other boxers to take a dive; in AD1896 the man that was declared the winner of the marathon was later discovered to have ridden a large portion of the race in a fairly new invention called an automobile; often we hear of the question in the Olympics of athletes doping or even judges giving questionable marks; yet my favorite of the cheaters has to be Nero. (You know the Roman emperor that was said to have played his fiddle while Rome burned…)
This guy was truly a work of art. He was known to have fixed the games so he could be crowned a champion. First he bribed officials to hold the games 2 years later than scheduled. Then he manipulated results, most famously the results of the chariot race. In that race Nero fell off his chariot and didn’t finish the course. Yet he was still crowned champion via a judges’ decision that if he had stayed on he would have won the race. (This is starting to sound like NASCAR.)
As an athlete I don’t understand how someone could cheat and still look at himself in the mirror. I think much of it is because of our misrepresentation of what success truly is. Because we define it by the scoreboard it has created a culture of win at all costs. I am a guy that has no problem telling an opponent that he made a good play – or – even admitting that someone was better than me on a given day.
First, let me be very succinct in my response to this: God expects and demands honesty in us. I never believe it is right to fake, flop, dope, or dive in order to win. I believe that on the court and in life you should man up and show integrity. I believe when the opponent is bearing down on you that you should step in and take the charge right in the middle of the chest (not take the sissy flop.) Be men and women of integrity!
Second, this idea has so permeated the church that we think victory is just in looking good on the outside; we think victory is in appearing victorious no matter the reality underneath; with think there is only victory and God’s blessing/approval if we are on the victor’s podium… It has led to what I heard a pastor recently refer to as the “I’m Fine Church” – one full of fakers that want to appear as something they are not. We have a society of folks that are trained to “play their fiddles” while “Rome is burning.” We are not honest with one another and therefore cannot truly be accountable to helping and encouraging one another. Ethics is not just about following the rules; it is also about admission of guilt, weakness, struggles, failures, etc.; it is about being real with one another.
Leviticus 19:35 You shall do no injustice in judgment, in measurement of length, weight, or volume.
Proverbs 16:11 Honest weights and scales are the Lord’s…