Winning the Game of Life
By Pastor J.D. Link
Romans 8:37 says, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” 1Cor 15:57 “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 2Cor 2:14 “Now thanks be unto God, which always causes us to triumph in Christ…” We see from these verses, that in and through Jesus Christ, we are more than conquerors; always victorious; and always caused to triumph. We know that in and through Christ we ultimately win, because we will dwell in joy, peace and love in the presence of God forever. But how do we walk as successful disciples of Christ in this life now? How do we benefit in this present age practically, as we do – and will – spiritually?
Since last Sunday was the big game (Super Bowl 51), I wanted to make some comparisons between a winning football team and winning in life. Jesus most often used natural, physical examples in order to communicate spiritual truth; and my hope is to do the same today. Therefore, we’ll look at seven principles that will enable us to win the game of life.
1. We must be on a team. This may go without saying, but I do not want to assume anything. In football, you are guaranteed not to win if you’re not on the team to begin with. How does this apply spiritually? Well, you must be born again! No matter how much worldly success you may have, if you’re not a disciple of Christ, you’re on the losing team. You must have your name on the roster in Heaven, written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. However, unlike football, tryouts to get on “team Jesus” are fairly simple. Repent, believe in Jesus, confess Him as Lord, get water baptized, be filled with the Holy Spirit (Act 2:37-38, Rom 10:9-10, Heb 6:1-2, 12:23).
2. We need a good coach. A good coach is wise and knows how to win. We have the best Coach in the universe, The Lord Jesus Christ. He knows our gifts and talents. He knows where we will best fit, and where we’ll have the most success. As His mother Mary wisely instructed in Jn 2:5, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” The best coach in the world cannot help you succeed, if you do not do what he says. Jesus said in Lk 6:46 “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” He said in Mt 7:21, “Not everyone that says unto me, “Lord, Lord”, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” If we’re not winning in life, we can’t blame the Coach!
3. We need a good playbook, and we need to know it. We may be on the team and have a great coach, but if we don’t learn the playbook, we’re not going to play very well. The Bible is our playbook, and to have good success, we need to read it, speak it, and obey it (2Tim 3:16-17, Mk 13:31, Jn 17:17, 6:63; Jos 1:8). If you are calling audibles every play in life, chances are you don’t know the play book!
4. We need proper training and conditioning. We need to exercise our senses to discern good and evil (Heb 5:13-14). We must be built up and spiritually strengthened on a regular basis. A good daily workout of prayer, praise, meditation and Bible reading will keep us in top shape, and prepared for spiritual battle (1Cor 9:24-27, 2Tim 4:7-8). We cannot lay on the couch and eat junk food all day, and expect to be ready for action when the big game comes.
5. We must be disciplined. Consistently doing those things that build us up spiritually, even when we may not feel like (Lk 4:16). Football players practice, exercise, eat right, study the playbook – day in and day out – even when they don’t much feel like it. This is discipline, and we must have it to win. We must be moderate (Philp 4:5) in all things. We must endure hardness (2Tim 2:3). We must not let carnal desires have control over us (1Cor 6:12).
6. We must obey the team captain. The Holy Spirit executes the plays of the coach. He is like the quarterback. The football trinity is the team owner, head coach and team captain. God the Father owns everything; Jesus is Head Coach; and the Holy Spirit is making it happen on the field. He reminds us of what the Coach taught us (Jn 14:26). Therefore, we need to yield to Him. He knows what it takes for us to win. We must not grieve Him by not listening (Eph 4:30), and we must not quench Him (1Thess 5:19) by doing our own thing on the field of daily life.
7. We must put forth effort – give 110%. While it is mathematically impossible to give more than 100%, the point in the saying is to give it your all every play in the game. The Patriot’s record come from behind win is an excellent example of this. We ought not be slacker Christians, expecting our brothers and sisters in Christ to make up for our laziness. We all need to do our part as unto Jesus (Col 3:17, 23). We are not to be slothful in our business (Rom 12:11). We are to bless God with all our soul (Ps 103:1); Love and seek God with all our heart (Mk 12:30, Ps 119:10); And do what we do with all our might (Ecc 9:10). God’s grace is not a license for laziness, but rather it is His ability to “labor more abundantly” (1Cor 15:10).
So, to win in life: Get on team Jesus, obey the Coach, know the playbook, practice, be disciplined, be willing led by the team Captain, and give your best effort. This is all pretty simple. In fact, most Christians probably already know this. However, do we do it? Because knowing it doesn’t mean a thing if we’re not applying it; and while many know it, I believe few do it. So, let’s be doers of the Word, and walk in the victory of Calvary (Jam 1:22)!