Last year during the NBA play-offs; a commonly told joke emerged about LeBron James. The joke went something like this; “What happens when you ask LeBron James for change from a dollar? You get 3 quarters.” For those of you that do not follow the NBA, there are 4 quarters in a game. The tag that LeBron gained last year was he didn’t “show up” or play hard in the 4th quarter. I think he must have heard the joke because he changed all that this year during the play-offs and especially in the last game. He played consistently hard throughout each quarter and encouraged his younger teammates to do the same. One of the criticisms of the regular NBA session is that the players don’t play hard until the 4th quarter. Some teams or players don’t have very good performances during the first 3 quarters and excel during the 4th. It’s not how well you start but how you finish. Our Christian walk can be very similar. Most of us don’t start the game of life performing very well. Our sinful nature pulls us astray and we seek to feed our fleshly desires. When Christ enters into your life then you get a chance, through the direction of His Holy Spirit, to finish well.
Philippians 3:13-15 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.15 Therefore let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. New King James Version (NKJV)
In sports, you are taught to have a short term memory regarding your mistakes and failures. If you keep looking back at those mistakes then you can’t see the challenges in front of you. The same is true regarding our sin. When we keep looking back at our failures and sins then we stop moving forward and begin to live in regret. Paul commanded the church at Philippi to press forward. If anybody could have stayed stuck in regret it would have been Paul. He described himself as the chief of sinners. He hunted down Christians and had them killed. The thing that kept him from looking backwards was his knowledge that his sins were fully washed and removed from him because of Christ redemptive work. The Christian sex addicts that I counsel struggle with looking back at their past sins and failures. They believe they have exceeded God’s reach of Grace and Forgiveness. They can’t press toward God’s goal because they are still carrying the burdens of their sin. There is no place that his truth and grace cannot touch. When we leave our past failures at the cross, we no longer have to look back because we are no longer fettered and controlled by them.
In baseball a pitcher can throw what is called a “perfect game”. In other sports we debate over the best game of all time. In life the only person to play the perfect game was Jesus Christ. The world may look at his life and say, “Well, those first 3 quarters looked good but he really tanked in that last quarter, I mean after all being crucified is no way to finish a game.” Jesus’ last quarter was his best quarter with the perfect finish. Jesus didn’t play the perfect game to impress men. He played the perfect game to save men.
No matter what the first 3 quarters of your life have been you can always press on toward the prize knowing that he played the perfect game for you.