Chase the Lion (part five)
“Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear.”
The Domino Effect
· On October 31st, 1517, a monk named Martin Luther walked up to the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany and posted a piece of paper on the church doors. His 95 theses attack the practice of indulgences—the selling of forgiveness by the church. Luther was put on trial. He was excommunicated from the church. But that one act of courage had a domino effect—it ignited the Protestant Reformation.
· On April 18th, 1945, a factory owner named Oskar Schindler had a list of 1097 names manually typed—297 women and 800 men. He rescued them from Nazi Concentration Camps. Schindler lost everything. He died broke. But that one act of courage had a domino effect—a half-century later, there are more than 6,000 descendants of the Schindler’s list.
· On December 1st, 1951, a seamstress named Rosa Parks got on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. Segregation laws required black passengers to give up their seat for white passengers. Rosa Parks refused to do it. She was arrested. She lost her job. But that one act of courage had a domino effect—it inspired a citywide boycott and a court battle. Within two years, bus segregation was ruled unconstitutional.
· Let’s make an observation: It’s small acts of courage that change the course of history. Someone takes a risk and it has a domino effect.
· Now here’s the thing. We think about people like Martin Luther and Oscar Schindler and Rosa Parks in heroic terms. But they didn’t know they were making history when they were making history! They were just ordinary people taking risks! But when you take a risk you never know what kind of domino effect it is going to have.
· During the Chase the Lion series we’re looking at an ancient warrior named Benaiah chased a lion into a pit on a snowy day and killed it.
· Scripture goes on to list his military achievements and they are pretty impressive. He was one of the most decorated and celebrated warriors in Israel’s history.
· He was the captain of King David’s bodyguard. He was one of David’s thirty mighty men. In fact, Scripture says he was more honored than the other thirty. And Benaiah goes on to become Commander-in-Chief of Israel’s army.
· But the genealogy of success can always be traced back to the risks we take. II Samuel 23 records three dominos. Benaiah took on two Moabites despite being outnumbered; he chased a lion despite snowy conditions; and he fought an Egyptian despite the fact that he was out armed. And those three risks had a domino effect.
· As I reflect on my own life, I realize that most of the good things that have happened are the byproduct of a few risks. And the bigger the risks the bigger the rewards!
· Let me try to put risk in biblical context. We don’t tend to think of risk in spiritual terms, but risk is one dimension of righteousness.
· In Matthew 25, Jesus describes the Kingdom of Heaven in terms of risk.
· Matt. 25:14-18
· If you really want to appreciate this parable you’ve got to realize that one talent was the ancient equivalent of twenty years of a day laborer’s salary. I don’t know about you, but if someone gives me a hundred years wages I don’t know if I ever take another risk. I’ve got enough money to last the rest of my life. You know what I’m saying? It had to tempting to play it safe. He had more to lose! But he also had more to gain!
· Verse 19-21
· Now let me stop right there and give you a biblical definition of faithfulness. Faithfulness is risk and risk is faithfulness. I think we tend to think of faithfulness in maintenance terms. Faithfulness is holding the fort. Faithfulness is maintaining the status quo. Faithfulness is hanging on to what you have. And nothing could be further from the truth. Faithfulness is ROI—return on investment.
· Faithfulness is multiplying what you have to the best of your God-given ability. Faithfulness isn’t minimizing risk. Faithfulness is maximizing risk because maximizing risk is maximizing reward.
· I’m concerned that too many of us have a savings mindset—we want to keep what we have. We’re playing not to lose. And the parable of the talents is all about an investment mindset—risking what you have to get more. It’s playing to win.
· Verse 24-30
· These are some of the harshest words in the gospels, and the servant broke even. Evidently, breaking even isn’t good enough.
· In the context of this parable, wickedness is burying your talent in the ground. And it is the byproduct of focusing on action regrets instead of inaction regrets. The wicked servant was afraid that he might lose what he had.
· A few months ago I read a fascinating story about Ted Leonsis, the owner of the Washington Capitals. Let me pull a Paul Harvey and tell you the story behind the story.
· Leonsis made his fortune as an executive at AOL. And he is a highly regarded as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. But if you want to really appreciate who he isand how he got there, you have to hit the rewind button and go back to an incident that happened in 1983. Ted Leonsis was only twenty-five years old. He was on anEastern Airlines flight that lost its ability to use its wing flaps and landing gear. The flight attendants cleared the overhead bins; shifted passengers; and gave them a crash course in crash landings. And Ted Leonsis said he began to think about what he would do if he survived. He said, “I promised myself that if I didn’t die, I’d play offense for the rest of my life.” Leonsis survived the landing and compiled a list of 101 things to do. To date, he has accomplished 74 of those 101 things. He came up with categories like family matters, financial matters, travel andcharities. And he started setting goals. Here are some of the goals he has accomplished to date:
1.) Fall in love and get married
14.) Net worth of $100 million, after taxes
22.) Create the world’s largest media company
24.) Own a jet
35.) Give $1 million to Georgetown University
37.) Start a family foundation
40.) Own a sports franchise
83.) Produce a TV show
86.) Invent a Board Game
92.) Hold Elective Office
· I love those life goals. But what I love even more is the motivation behind them. Leonsis has a simple mission statement: play offense with your life.
· Satan wants to put us in a defensive posture. And he uses two primary tactics—fear and discouragement. He wants us to run away from fear, uncertainty, and risk. But Christ calls us to chase lions. Satan would love nothing more than for our ultimate goal to be not to sin. But doing nothing wrong doesn’t constitute doing something right. Goodness is not the absence of badness!
· Action regrets vs inaction regrets
· Action regrets taste bad, but inaction regrets leave a bitter aftertaste that lasts a lifetime. Inaction regrets haunt us because they leave us asking what if. We are left to wonder how our lives would have been different had we taken the risk or seized the opportunity.
· What if we had chased the lion instead of running away? Somehow our lives seem incomplete. Failing to take a risk is almost like losing a piece of the jigsaw puzzle to your life. It leaves a gaping hole. When we get to the end of our lives, our greatest regrets will be the missing pieces.