June 6, 2020
Occidental Community Church family,
Matthew 20:26. "Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant. 27.and whoever wants to be first must be your slave - 28. just as the Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Jesus directed these words not only to his chosen apostles, but specifically to Salome, the mother of James and John, who was very likely the sister of Jesus' mother Mary. She had come to Jesus with a special request. When Jesus had set up his Messianic Kingdom, would he give her sons special places of honor, one at his right hand and the other at his left? James and John had come to Jesus earlier with this same request. The other ten apostles were indignant with James and John because of their arrogance and boldness to make such a request. Jesus through his teaching, but even more through his life and death, was revealing a pathway to glory and honor that was foreign to the world of his day. It remains so even today.
Leo Durocher was a hard-nosed baseball player and manager, once managing the New York Giants. He was known for saying outlandish things during his career, but he is probably most remembered for a statement he made when asked to give his opinion of a particular player who had a reputation for being a really nice guy. His now famous remark was, "Nice guys finish last." Durocher wanted to be remembered as a winner, not a "nice guy" who finished last.
Most trophies and medals in sports are awarded to those who win or who finish close to the top. But there is one trophy which is awarded to participants who do not necessarily finish in first place or even close to the top. It is called the Pierre de Coubertin International Fair Play Trophy. It is named after the founder of the modern Olympic Committee and was first awarded in 1964. It is given to people in sports who have demonstrated nobility of spirit and good sportsmanship, and it is regarded as one of the noblest awards in all sports. Here are some past winners:
During the world championships in kayaking at Copenhagen, Denmark, two Danish paddlers were in the lead when their rudder was damaged. Two British paddlers, in second place, stopped to help the Danes fix it. The Danish team went on to defeat the British by one second in an event that lasted nearly three hours. The trophy was awarded to the British team.
A Hungarian tennis player won the trophy after he pleaded with officials to give his opponent more time to recover from a leg cramp. The officials gave him the extra time. The Hungarian was beaten by his opponent after he had recovered from his cramp.
A high school basketball coach was awarded the trophy after forfeiting the Georgia state championship game upon discovering that one of his players was scholastically ineligible. No one would have known if the coach had remained silent.
The very first trophy went to an Italian bobsledder named Eugenio Monti during the 1964 Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. He was leading after his final run, and the only one given a chance to beat him was Tony Nash of Great Britain. But as Nash got ready for his final run, he discovered that a bolt on his sled had snapped. Upon learning of this, Monti removed the bolt from his own sled and gave it to Nash. After repairing his sled, Nash came flying down the course, setting a new world record and winning the gold medal.
Was Leo Durocher right - "Nice guys finish last?" Maybe in the eyes of most, but not in the eyes of God. There are many trophies to be awarded on the day we all stand before God, and many will go to those whom this world might call "losers." These are the ones who gladly give up earthly honors and privileges for the sake of serving Christ and serving others in his name. They may never go down in the history books as winners, but in Heaven's Hall of Fame, they will be recognized as truly the greatest of all!
Trusting in Him,