8/30/2016 10:56:05 AM
An Olympic Lesson
26-0. That was the win-loss record for Kerri Walsh Jennings in Olympic Beach Volleyball. She had never lost a match during the Olympics. She was the three-time defending Gold Medal champion. The last time anyone else had ever won the Gold Medal was 16 years ago in the year 2000.
That’s an impressive record! But that record came to an end earlier this month. In the semi-final match, Walsh Jennings’ team lost to the Brazilian team. Therefore, instead of winning Olympic Gold, she had to settle for the Bronze Medal. If this was her final Olympics, she would go out with a career Olympic record of 27-1.
Even with the loss, that is an impressive record. Yet, I believe the one loss showed me something even more impressive than the 27 victories. I was impressed by the way she carried herself in defeat.
What is the typical response from a professional athlete when they lose? Many times they play the blame game. It’s the referee’s fault, or the coaches, or the other players’. Rarely do you see someone who places the blame squarely on themselves. Yet, that is exactly what Kerri Walsh Jennings did. The only blame she threw was directed at herself and her own performance.
Her reaction to a loss can be used as an example as we think about the way we react in defeat. The defeat I am talking about is not the loss of a game, but rather the loss of a battle against Satan’s temptations. We (like most professional athletes) like to play the blame game. We like to blame others for our sins. When we do that, we aren’t doing anything new. Go back to the beginning of time. Go back to the Garden of Eden. What do you find? In Genesis 3, immediately after the first sin, do you find Adam and Eve accepting blame? No, instead they are trying to pass the blame to others. Adam said, “The woman You gave to be with Me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate” (Gen. 3:12). Adam not only blamed his wife, but he was even so bold to blame God. Notice how he was telling God that if God hadn’t made Eve, none of this would have ever happened. But then it was Eve’s turn; and instead of accepting blame for her actions, she said, “It was the serpent. He deceived me, and I ate” (Gen. 3:13).
Ever since Adam and Eve, and all the way down to today, people (including you and me) like to blame others for our sins. Yet what does God want us to do instead? Listen to what God tells us through the Apostle John, “If we say, ‘We have no sin,’ we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).
God does not want us to pass the blame, but to accept it; to confess it. God wants us to own up to our sins and repent of them. And do you know the most impressive, the most amazing thing of all? 2000 years ago, on a cross, Jesus already did that for us. He accepted the blame for the sins of the world. He was punished, not because he deserved it, but because we do. The Apostle John also tells us, “the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).
God doesn’t want us to pass the blame to others; because he has done that already for us. He has taken the blame off of us and put it on Jesus. We are told in Ephesians 2:4-5, 8-9, “God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love that He had for us, made us alive with the Messiah even though we were dead in trespasses….For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works, so that no one can boast.”
Praise God that, even though we deserve the blame for our sins, he has taken the blame for us. He has paid the price. Through the blood of Jesus, you are forgiven; you stand blameless in God’s sight.