It All Goes Back In The Box -- Grandpa said, Delbert Ray, all the money and houses and land and cars and hotels and railroads go back in the box. I know you worked hard learning how to get them and worked hard learning how to play the game, but they do not belong to you. I knew that. It was his game, but my Grandpa was talking about more than putting a Monopoly game back in a box.
It All Goes Back in the Box -- sermon video audio notes
It All Goes Back in the Box - sermon video audio notes
Scriptures: Luke 12:15, Luke 12:2, Luke 12:31, Matthew 6:33
Life Gate Church Reaching Up and Reaching Out
It All Goes Back in the Box - sermon video
It All Goes Back in the Box - sermon notes
Scriptures: Luke 12:15, Luke 12:2, Luke 12:31, Matthew 6:33
I want to talk about “VALUES” today. What is a value? A value, by definition, is that which we think much of and regard highly. The values in a person’s life are what determine that person’s destiny. The values you embrace define your success or your failure. The values you embrace specify whom, or at least the type of person you marry. Values decide the state of purity a person is in when he/she marries. Values determine your job. Values control how you treat people. Values determine your indebtedness or lack of debt. Your values decree your appearance and the clothes you wear. Your values establish the automobile you drive and the people with whom you do life. The values you caress are your constant companions. Values make you or break you.
You can discern a great deal about a person’s values by the company that a person keeps. You can determine a person’s values more by the company they keep than the house in which they live. Why is that? Luke 12:15 says…
Luke 12:15 Then he said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; A MAN’S LIFE DOES NOT CONSIST IN THE ABUNDANCE OF HIS POSSESSIONS.”
We are not measured by what we possess. We are measured by our values. We live in a time and a generation when values are foggy. It didn’t used to be this way. Values used to be more clearly defined. That shows us that values change. Our children are confused about values. Go visit their “My Space.” You will see. They do not understand values. Why are they confused? Look back one generation – my generation – our generation. We spend so much time showing them how MAKING A LIVING IS IMPORTANT THAT WE DO NOTSHOW THEM HOW TO MAKE A LIFE. We show them, contrary to what Jesus said, life DOES consist in the abundance of possessions.
I want to tell you my Monopoly story. I was just a little guy. My parents had moved our family from Miami, Florida to Griffin, Georgia. That was frightening. We left everyone and everything familiar, including my grandparents. My parents allowed my sister and me to go to Miami during the summers to spend time with our relatives. I enjoyed being with my Grandpa Young. He had a shuffleboard court in his back yard and I would practice shuffleboard all day and then challenge him to a game in the evenings when he came home from work. He usually let me win, but would beat me sometimes just to keep my perspectives correct. We would watch boxing on TV. Grandpa would let me pick the boxer I wanted to win and he would take the other. He taught me how to play dominos and checkers. Again, he usually let me win, but would keep my perspective correct by winning occasionally. He spent a lot of time with me. Maybe it is from him that I received the Value of spending time with my grandchildren. However, there was one game that Grandpa never allowed me to “simply win.” He was ruthless at this game. I remember crying because he won every time at that game. He won with vigor. The game was Monopoly. Monopoly brought something out of Grandpa Young that was a little mean.
I know that most of you have never played Monopoly with me, but my wife and my son have. I am ruthless at Monopoly. I don’t play much now because it brings something out of me that is not pleasant. I was sharing this story with my son and he recalled a time that I traded him a candy bar for Boardwalk. He was about eight years old then. I would do anything for Boardwalk.
Back to my Grandpa Young. I would play Monopoly with Grandpa every year and every year he would beat me. He would buy up everything. He would buy something and then mortgage it so he could buy something else. He would rejoice when I had to go to jail and it cost me money to get out. He wanted all the railroads, Park Place, and Boardwalk. I tried to hold on to my money, but he ruthlessly spent his and eventually he controlled the board. I could not make a move without it costing money. Grandpa would laugh as he took my last dollar and I would cry. So, I determined that I was going to beat Grandpa Young at Monopoly. That next winter I played Monopoly constantly. I played with everyone that would play with me. I kept the board set out and ready. I beat everyone. It got to where no one would play Monopoly with me. I would invite my friends to spend the night so we could play, but they would only come if we did not play Monopoly. I learned how to buy, when to mortgage, when to stay in jail, and when to get out. I learned what to buy first and what to wait to buy. I became ruthless at Monopoly. I went to Miami that summer. I remember being anxious to play Monopoly with Grandpa Young. The evening finally came and after three hours of Monopoly, I took his last dollar. I won. I was so proud. I had it all. Everything was mine. All my practice and time paid off. I won the game. I wanted to leave the board out and maybe bronze it. I at least wanted to play Grandpa again the next night, but Grandpa said, “Put everything back in the box.” I said, “Let’s leave it out and do it again tomorrow.” He said, “No. It all goes back in the box.” Grandpa said, “Delbert Ray, all the money and houses and land and cars and hotels and railroads go back in the box. I know you worked hard learning how to get them and worked hard learning how to play the game, but they do not belong to you.” I knew that. It was his game, but my Grandpa was talking about more than putting a Monopoly game back in a box. Grandpa said Monopoly was a lot like life. “IT ALLGOES BACK IN THE BOX.” He was teaching me that one day everything that I learned and had worked hard to acquire would all go back in the box. Every bad experience (Go Directly to Jail) and every good experience (Pass go and collect $200) all goes back in the box. Everything goes back in the box. NOTHING IS REALLY MINE. Even my body will go back in the box. It does not matter how well we learn to play the game, or how long the game last. One day it all GOES BACK IN THE BOX. We can learn the game well and beat the masters, but in the end, IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX. ISN’T IT AMAZING THATALL OF LIFE BOILS DOWN TO A BOX? In 1963, we put my Grandpa Young in the box. Our lives come down to a box.
I am trying to help us with our values. If it all boils down to a box, then what are the true riches, or true values, of life? Is there anything that does not go back to the box? Jesus said,
Luke 12:2 Life is MORE than food, and the body MORE than clothes.
Jesus told us there is more. We preachers usually project possessions as unimportant. That is not what Jesus said. Existing (food) and acquiring (clothes) are important. However, there is MORE. Something is of a HIGHER PRIORITY. Jesus went through different value scenarios i.e. be careful who you follow (12:1-3), do not fear people (12:4-5), you are important (12:6-12), be cautious of greed (12:13-21), do not worry about things, consider the ravens, and consider the lilies (12:22-30). Jesus headed for one VALUE that must take precedence over every other value. He said,
Luke 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and ALL THESE THINGS SHALL BE ADDED unto you.
THE ULTIMATE VALUE IS SEEKING GOD’S KINGDOM because, one day, everything else GOES BACK IN THE BOX. I want to point something out. I have a little fear about saying this for how it may sound. Jesus did not say to seek first Jesus, or to seek first God, or seek first the Holy Spirit. He said to seek first the kingdom of God. In Matthew’s account of this teaching, we read,
Matthew 6:33 But SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The top, the number one priority in life, the ultimate VALUE is to grab hold of his kingdom. We are to love God and people with all our hearts, but we are to seek the kingdom first. What does that mean? The kingdom of God is the ultimate goal/value. If we can find the kingdom, we will find everything else. It is in the kingdom that we find the Lord Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father. THE TRUTH OF WHAT JESUS IS SAYING IS IF WE GETTHIS VALUE RIGHT, EVERY OTHER VALUE WILL ALIGN PROPERLY. If we get this one right – marriage, life, wealth, success, clothes, automobile, house, etc – everything else we need and want from life is added.
I want to end today by telling the parable of Luke chapter twelve in a modern 21st century style that Jesus might tell it in today. There was a man who had learned to play the game. He was a workaholic. He worked and worked until he became a master of the game. He was ruthless. He was willing to do whatever it took to control the board and fill his bank accounts. He was a 24/7 person. If he was not at life’s board of Monopoly, his mind was. His wife would try to get him to slow down and remember that he had a family. He was missing his children growing and was oblivious to his wife’s loneliness. After awhile, the family stopped complaining about his absence and grew accustom to it. He justified everything by saying he was doing it for them. The bank accounts grew. He had all he would ever need. His retirement was set. Everything he worked for all those years had come together. He played the game and won. He had beaten many masters.
Early one morning, about 2:00 a.m., he felt a discomfort in his chest. It was intense enough to cause his eyes to burst open from sleep. Within minutes, the discomfort turned into pain. Sweat suddenly covered his body and the pain was a heart attack. He shook his wife and told her to call 9-1-1. The E. M. T. team rushed to his house. He stopped breathing. His wife panicked. She tried to help him, but she could do nothing. The children cried as they watched their dad given emergency resuscitation. They could do nothing. The E. M. T. shocked his chest. His body jolted, but his eyes stared blankly at the ceiling. There was no one that could do anything. All the CEO’s and powerful executives he had spent so much time with could do nothing. All his money could do nothing. His portfolio could do nothing. All the wonderful things he had done for the community could do nothing. The pain took his last breath as he passed into eternity. The man who had won the game, was put in a box. You see, IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX.
His death was a major story in the financial community. His obituary was in Forbes and The Wall Street Journal. There was a tremendous turnout for the memorial service and funeral. Many prominent people were there. Wonderful eulogies were spoken. They buried him in the box.
When it was dark and there was no one present to observe, unseen and unheard, the angel of the Lord came to the cemetery. He made his way through all of the other gravestones. He came to the marker, and there traced, with one finger, the single word that God chose to assess this man’s life. Do you know what it was? “FOOL.” “YOU FOOL,” God said. That’s Jesus’ story.
You see, in all the painstaking work we do, we fail to plan for the one inevitable certainty. That certainty is that the game ends one day. We fail to think deeply about the one inescapable fact of human existence. I do not mean we fail to make arrangements. I mean we fail to think that one day IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX. All the houses and land and hotels and railroads and passing goals, etc. goes back in the box. That man learned to play the game and he learned to play the game really well. He just forgot one thing. IT ALLGOES BACK IN THE BOX. HE FORGOT THE GAME WOULD END, BUT THE GAME ALWAYS ENDS. THE GAME ENDS EVERY DAY FOR SOMEONE.
So you have to ask yourself these questions. What matters? To what is worth giving your life? Everything I clutch and consume and hoard is going to go back in the box. The story that Jesus told has been lived out millions and millions and millions of times. You do not have to believe the Bible to believe the story. You can see it every day. Let me give you two examples.
They say he desired to leave the world a better place and he would do it by making people aware of the animal kingdom. They called him the Crocodile Hunter. His name was Steve Irwin. He was one of the most famous and loved people of this generation. He had a beautiful wife and two children he loved very much. They worked and played together. At age 44, on September 4, 2006, Irwin was fatally pierced in the chest by a stingray spine while snorkeling at the Great Barrier Reef. Was he successful? He was very successful. Was he wealthy? He was very wealthy. The Australia Zoo released this about Irwin after his death. “The exceptional life Steve led is a testament to his respect for all creatures great and small, and his passion for wildlife was matched only by his passion for family life.” –Australia Zoo. Every television station carried his story and the world will remember the Crocodile Hunter for his passion for nature, but not his passion for the kingdom of God. ITALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX.
Daniel Smith, the 20-year-old son of Anna Nicole Smith, died suddenly in the Bahamas this past Sunday, three days after his mother gave birth to his sister. He was visiting his mother in the hospital when he was found dead in his mother’s room. They had it all, or so they thought, but they were not figuring on one thing. IT ALL GOES BACK IN THE BOX.
In your programs, you’ll find a little card. It simply says, “It all goes back in the box.” I have some scriptures on the back. I would like you to take this with you this morning. It is just a reminder. Use it as a bookmark. Put it on your refrigerator door. Let it be a reminder to keep your values straight. Life really is MORE than the things we possess. There is a kingdom to seek.
I want to ask you to close your eyes for just a moment, right now. Even though there are a lot of people in this room, this is a moment between you and God – a really private moment. I want you to ask yourself some deep questions. What game are you playing right now? What illusion has its hooks in you? What are you truly seeking first? Then I want to tell you, “Don’t be a fool.”
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