When I was younger, I used to see pictures of those fiftieth reunions of high school graduating classes and think about how old those people were. Last year, I had the experience of attending my fiftieth reunion and being in one of those pictures. Sure enough – all of those other people were really old!
It was my experience at our reunion that most of the conversations had some things in common. I’m fairly certain that this is not unique to my class.
We “fudged” and told each other how little we have changed. We talked a lot about families; especially grandchildren. We got caught up on where we are living, what careers we either have or have had. We talked about classmates who are no longer with us. We talked about our own illnesses, surgeries, etc. Of course, there was a great deal of reminiscing.
During one of those times of reminiscing with a former football teammate of mine, he told me a story I’d never heard before. It is quite possible that, at my advanced age, I had forgotten it. The incident he talked about took place during my senior year. I had been hurt, so I wasn’t on the field when it happened.
Our team was playing a team who should have easily won. My friend was telling me how that, on our last drive, he came up short of the goal line and we came up just short on the scoreboard. The coach of the opposing team looked him up and said, “Son, you didn’t lose. You just ran out of time.”
I suppose that the coach’s comment was meant to convey the message that our team had achieved what is sometimes called a “moral victory.” Moral victories still show up as a great big “L” at the end of the year, though.
I’m wondering how that type of thinking translates to something much more important than football. I’m wondering if this type of thinking has any connection at all to my life as a Christian.
I think that it does.
How do I approach somebody with whom I disagree on religious matters? Am I more concerned with making a point or making a disciple? Am I more concerned about defeating error (as important at that is) or promoting truth? Am I more concerned with people thinking that I am a really great guy or with people submitting to the Lordship of Jesus Christ?
Am I more concerned with winning an argument or winning a soul?
“Moral victories” in athletics are still losses. Similarly, those “victories” I may think I have in religious conversations and discussions may be terrible losses with eternal consequences. If my motivation, attitude, and or actions are not Christ-like and do not point people to Him, it may very well be that the soul of a person outside of Christ would remain lost unless somebody else can reach and teach him or her.
It needs to also be said that, if those things mentioned above are not Christ-like, another person is in danger of experiencing a terrible and eternal loss. That person could very well be the man I see in the mirror on a regular basis.
I may think that I’m really something if I can “shut people down;” “bully them into submission” with my demeanor, physical presence, or knowledge of the scriptures; and win every argument or discussion in which I am involved. I may have even convinced myself that I am very intelligent in so doing.
However, the Holy Spirit does not place as much emphasis on intelligence as He does on wisdom. I need to remember that He inspired the writer of old to pen these words:
“…he that winneth souls is wise (Prov. 11:30, KJV).
I don’t want time to run out on that for me. What about you?
AUTHOR: Jim Faughn