Spiritual Gifts / Accountability
February 14, 2016
We’ve started the year talking about what it means to be excellent! Excellent individually and excellent as a church. With that in mind, last week we started talking about Spiritual Gifts. If we use the gifts God has given us, and every believer has God given Spiritual Gifts, then we have a greater opportunity to bring glory and honor to Christ, because we’re serving Him in the manner which brings us fulfillment and joy; and we find ourselves enjoying God and blessing other people.
We have more Spiritual Gift Inventories available in the lobby area. Take one on the way out!
That’s a mouthful for the first paragraph. Usually I try to make a joke or say something a little more lighthearted, but I’ve really been struck by something which happened last week and want to take some liberties this morning to talk about them, and loosely correlate them to Spiritual Gifts and our walk in Christ. Then I will finish Spiritual Gifts next Sunday . . . maybe.
If you didn’t know it, last Sunday was the official end of the 2015-16 Football season. It was the Super Bowl. The Broncos won! I totally didn’t see that coming. I thought Carolina would win.
I am not going to dissect the game, but I am going to analyze the post game responses from 3 different athletes. I’m doing this for a couple of reasons, all 3 of these men are followers of Christ, and their words and actions impact their ministry and the worlds view of Christ through them. And secondly, this is important for us to understand as well. What we say and do has a huge bearing on those around us . . . whether we believe it or like it. It’s true!
Firstly, we’re going to look at Cam Newton. If you don’t know who Cam Newton is, he’s the Quarterback for Carolina and was the MVP in the NFL this year. It was a landslide victory, winning 48 out of 50 votes.
He likes to think of himself as Superman, and before the Super Bowl this is what he was wearing. He had his Superman shirt and MVP shoes on. He’s a little arrogant about his skills and abilities. He wants you to know he’s the MVP and Superman.
His antics on the field are colorful, he’s an amazing athlete, and certainly enjoys celebrating. Here is a quick peek at his celebrations. Notice he will do the Superman and he will do what is called the dab. That will be the last image.
VIDEO of Newton Celebrations
He really looks like he’s having a ton of fun out there. And that’s great! But he has something else he has to live up to. Cam Newton is also a Christian. The night before the Super Bowl, his mom sent him a message which he posted on social media. Here is part of the message from his mom.
But I want you to understand that hot and cold water comes out of different fountains. You are either hot or cold. You have a big platform. Which fountain are you? Don’t let the devil win over your words or speech that represent the dark world.
But represent the awesome God you serve thru your words. Don’t confuse the devil and the enemy of what side you are on; so speak boldly to the nations, that you represent Christ for the great things He has done . . . Remember God!
She’s a wise woman. Those are especially great words for someone who’s in the spotlight and who wants the lights to be focused on him. Newton has a great platform in which to speak, not just about God, but to show Christian maturity.
Well, the game didn’t go his way. Carolina was outplayed and Denver won the game. Cam Newton played his worst game of the year. After the game, there’s a news conference . . . and Newton is required to go and answer questions. When you lose, it’s no fun. This was Cam Newton after the game.
VIDEO of Newton Post game not answering questions and leaving podium
In the end he just got up and walked off the stage. Now, I thought his affect was really poor. I understand he just lost the biggest game of the year and his career. I also understand a lot of the questions you’re asked are not overly intelligent. He was upset and angry, use whatever words you want. But, looking at what mom told him, he was definitely not hot, he was cold. He forgot he represented Christ. He didn’t remember God.
Again, it’s not easy to do when you lose, especially with some of the questions thrown your way. Sometimes there’s not much you can say, but lose with class and grace.
Oh, but wait a minute. Lots of people called Cam out on his words and actions. So he responded to the criticism of the way he handled himself. Part of his response to the criticism was this . . . “I’m a sore loser. Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser.”
I suppose there are good losers, those are usually people just there for the community aspect of the contest. They’re not losers, they just want something different from the competition.
When I think about myself, I will admit – – – I am extremely competitive! And I am a sore loser. I passionately dislike losing. I don’t know that I’m a good loser, but if you beat me, I will congratulate you and deal with the consequences of losing the game. Now, if you are a follower of Christ, you need to lose with grace and dignity. And you have to win with grace and dignity. Losing with grace and dignity does not make you a good loser! It simply means you are a Christ follower who is demonstrating Christian virtues in the midst of losing.
Here’s the issue, Paul said, Imitate me as I imitate Christ. – 1 Corinthians 11:1.
He later added this in Philippians ~ 17 Friends, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. – Philippians 3:17
So, the call in our lives is to imitate Christ. It’s to do our best to move in that direction and when we mess up, when we sin, when we do as Paul said, the very things that I don’t want to do, I do . . . and we know how that feels. Yet, we know we have Christ on our side and we learn and we grow and we don’t justify the sin.
Cam Newton had a great opportunity to bring glory and honor to Christ before a national audience. In my opinion he messed that one up. He could have come back and later said, ‘man, I was distraught, my actions weren’t great. Please forgive me.’ All would be forgiven and we would move on. And in some ways we would see humility from Cam Newton.
For us, the lesson is about how we act at all times. Are we honoring God? In the good times and in the not so good times – are we showing who God is in our lives, so that others will see Christ in us, even when life is not going our way!?
That’s where our spiritual walk comes into play. That’s where we use the resources God has already given us and we make that difference in the world because we are strong in Him – not in ourselves. We do that because we can admit Christ has made a difference in my life and I want to make a difference in someone else’s life.
We use our Spiritual Gifts to go into the world and show the world who Christ is by the way we serve. Whether it’s at church, in the community, at work, in the store, wherever we have the honor and privilege to use our Gifts, we do it for the common good . . . to the glory of Christ.
Let’s move on to – – – Peyton Manning. I really didn’t care who won, but wanted Manning to at least have a good game. He had an average game and he won. Manning has always been one of the classiest guys in the NFL. Win or lose, he responds to the questions after the game. Well, after the game he was asked a question, and I’ll show you a clip from that interview – with his answer – – –
VIDEO of Manning saying he’s going to drink lots of beer
Obviously, Manning is happy, he’s thrilled he won his 2nd Super Bowl. We assume this is it for him. I love his first priorities, kiss your wife, kiss the kids, hang out with family and friends . . . But . . .
Did he have to tell me he was going to drink lots of Budweiser? Some people said he owns some part of Budweiser, so it was self serving. I hope not! I think he’s got enough cash in the bank to carry our church for the next 100 years. Did he really need to say it? He actually said it 2 different times. UGH! Please say no!
Generally when you think about Peyton Manning, he’s not flashy, he does a lot of good at the Children’s Hospital. He doesn’t seem different off the field as he does on the field. Yet, that comment still didn’t leave a very good impression on me.
If we are supposed to honor Christ with the way we live our lives, that covers our words and our actions. Whatever we say or do should honor Christ. Win or lose. Have a good day or a bad day. How can we honor and glorify God and enjoy Him in all that we do?
It really does not matter what you do. Are you a minister, a teacher, retired, an executive, a street sweeper, it does not matter . . . as we saw from a couple of weeks ago, be the best of whatever you are!
Now, there was also an interview with another player which most people didn’t see, nor remember. I saw it and then videoed it on my phone. It was after the game with Josh Norman. He’s on the Carolina Panthers and he was equally distraught after the game. You could hear it in his voice. Now it may be heard to hear him at times, so I put the words he said in yellow on the bottom of the video. Here’s the video
VIDEO of Josh Norman thanking God
Now, I don’t know much about Josh Norman. It was obvious he was hurting after losing the game. What’s striking is the fact that in the midst of his trying time, he gave thanks to God for blessing his team to be in that position.
Do you notice a difference? Who are we called to be?
Remember, as I said last week . . . you may be the only Bible someone will ever read.
What are they reading when they see you in action?
What are they reading when they listen to your words?
What about your body language?
Don’t think people are not watching. People see you, they experience Christ through you. Through your words and your actions . . . and by the way you show your Spiritual giftedness.
What I like about Paul’s words — — is the fact that not only were the people of Philippi supposed to imitate Paul, because he was imitating Christ, but he goes further than that . . . Remember Paul’s words —
Friends, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. – Philippians 3:17
He wants the people to keep their eyes on those who are walking in Christ. That also begs the question . . . who are you keeping in touch with as an accountability partner? Who can you talk to about life? Who can challenge you? Who can hold you accountable?
Whose walk are you following? It’s easy to take the easy road, the road which Jesus said in Matthew 7, leads to destruction. Or we can enter through the Narrow Gate, which is more difficult, but leads to eternal rewards. And if we enter through the Narrow Gates, then we must realize there will be more expected of us. More people will look at our example.
When life doesn’t go our way, it’s easy to be like Cam Newton and sulk and not act mature. Or we can say the wrong things like Peyton Manning did. Or we can follow the example of Josh Norman and no matter the situation . . . we give thanks to God for his blessings.
We seek to imitate Christ, we seek to imitate those who have walked on this journey before us. We keep our eyes on them. In other words we focus our attention – – so that our heart, spirit, mind and entire being would learn how we are to walk as children of Christ!
How are you doing?