Life Lessons from the Basketball Championship Series
The pro basketball championship series has ended and with it, another season. Two main lessons/takeaways for me from this season-ending, summer-summoning series (one of the many great benefits of Bible memory especially on a regular, systematic basis is that literally EVERYTHING in life reminds one of something in the Bible, EVERY event big or small or in between brings back a Bible verse or lesson or principle or sermon previously ingested).
The first takeaway is that the Celtics had the #1 defense in the entire league for the season… and the Warriors #2.
It wouldn’t be prudent, um, wouldn’t be worth the time (Ephesians 5:16) to research the actual statistics but let’s just say it’s very, very common, in ANY sport, for the team with the #1 defense during the season to end up in the championship series. And they’re often joined by the team with the #2 defense.
And that reminds me of something I alluded to in a recent post, that the Christian life on OUR end is ALL ABOUT de-fense, de-fense, de-fense!
- “But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:9)
Note that it doesn’t say “Attack him (the devil, Satan, per verse 8)” or “Hunt him” or “Destroy him”. But rather, to just “RESIST him.” Clearly DE-FENSE. Why? Why are we to relegate ourselves to DEFENSE in the Christian life? Because the Lord Jesus has already taken care of the offense, He has already secured VICTORY!
- “… that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” (Hebrews 2:14b-15)
- “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.” (Colossians 2:15)
- “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” (1 John 5:4)
And just as we have ALREADY been adopted by God as sons and daughters and therefore siblings of our Lord Jesus Christ…
- “… you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ [our sibling, our brother as clearly stated in Hebrews 2:11]…” (Romans 8:15b-17a)
… but haven’t yet experienced the final and complete consummation of such…
- “… even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Romans 8:23b)
… so also Christ has ALREADY secured the victory per the verses above but the final and complete consummation of that will be delivered by God.
- “And the God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20a)
To borrow another sports illustration, we’re currently like an Olympian has won the race but the medal ceremony hasn’t yet taken place. The victory is a DONE DEAL, has ALREADY OCCURRED, but the final consummation of that will take place shortly (relatively speaking, in terms of eternity, as clearly explained in 2 Peter 3:8). That’s why we needn’t “go on the offensive” at all, ever, in the Christian life but rather are commanded to simply “resist” the devil and evil and sin and temptation. And further proving this to be true is what I mentioned in a recent post, that the “sword” of the Spirit in Ephesians 6:17 could rightly be interpreted as “knife” or “dirk” or “dagger”, a weapon not intended for offense but defense due to its short length.
Through the years I’ve heard of many people who have “gone on the offense” against the devil and that deeper dive into the demonic realm destroyed them, destroyed their minds and lives. Because our role as Christians is NOT to “go on offense” but rather to leave THAT to our “Field Commander”, the Lord Jesus Christ, and instead to be humble, peaceful, loving, and kind when it comes to others and to just “resist” and “stand firm” when it comes to the devil and his minions and schemes.
The second takeaway from the just-ended pro basketball championship series is that, as stated a number of times in past posts but always well-worth repeating, it’s not how one STARTS the really counts but rather how one FINISHES.
That’s true of individuals and also of teams.
In this case, in this series, the Celtics had a great START, winning Game 1 on the Warriors’ home court (thus taking away from them home-court advantage in the series) and then winning Game 3 at home to go up 2-1 in the best-of-seven series. But they didn’t have a great FINISH, losing the next three games straight and thus the series.
And that reminded me of a fellow in the Bible named Demas.
He too had a GREAT, fantastic, supercalifragilisticexpialidocious START, making it all the way to the innermost circle of the Apostle Paul himself, and Mark and Luke…
- “as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.” (Philemon 24)
- “Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas.” (Colossians 4:14)
… but a horrific FINISH.
- “for Demas, having loved this present world, has deserted me [i.e., and the faith]” (2 Timothy 4:10a)
Like Daniel in the Old Testament, let’s trust God and “purpose in our hearts” not to end up, not to follow the path and model and example of Demas but rather that of Paul, who had a horrific START…
- “… I used to persecute the church of God beyond measure, and TRIED TO DESTROY IT” (Galatians 1:13b, nuff said)
… but, humanly-speaking, no doubt the GREATEST-EVER FINISH outside of our Lord Himself.
Because what truly counts is not how you or I started but how we finish.
And that is one of my main daily motivations in life. One day may it be said of you and me that we too “fought the good fight… finished the course… kept the faith” (2 Timothy 4:7), knowing that “in the future there is laid up for [us] the crown of righteousness” (verse 8).
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