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Monday, December 14, 2020

Winners and Losers

By David A. Sargent

     Jimmy Valvano is remembered for running up and down the court after winning the 1983 NCAA basketball championship, after his NC State Wolfpack upset the Houston Cougars (including Clyde “the Glide” Drexler and Hakeem “the Dream” Olajuwon).  Valvano is also remembered well for some of his speeches.
     Valvano was diagnosed with bone cancer in June 1992.  In July, he found out that it had metastasized.  He died less than a year later on April 28, 1993.
     One of Valvano's most memorable motivational speeches was delivered February 21, 1993 at Reynolds Coliseum on NCSU's basketball court during the ten year commemoration of the University's 1983 NCAA championship.  It was during this speech that Valvano stressed the importance of hope, love, and persistence and included his famous quotation:  "Don't give up, don't ever give up.”
     Gary Smith once shared another message from Jimmy V:  Suffering from terminal spinal cancer at the age or 47, former North Carolina State basketball coach Jim Valvano spoke with a reporter.  He looked back on his life and told a story about himself as a 23-year-old coach of a small college team.  “Why is winning so important to you?” the players asked Valvano.
     “Because the final score defines you,” he said, “You lose, ergo, you're a loser.  You win, ergo, you're a winner.”
     “No,” the players insisted.  “Participation is what matters.  Trying your best, regardless of whether you win or lose -- that's what defines you.”
     It took 24 more years of living.  It took the coach bolting up from the mattress three or four times a night with his T-shirt soaked with sweat and his teeth rattling from the fever chill of chemotherapy and the terror of seeing himself die repeatedly in his dreams.  It took all that for him to say it: “Those kids were right.  It's effort, not result.  It's trying…  What a great human being I could have been if I'd had this awareness back then." *
     If our identity is defined by winning and losing, then we are all losers, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  That is true of every human being, no matter how hard we try not to sin.
     But God loves us anyway and He desires to save us from our sins (1 Timothy 2:4).  He gave His one and only Son to die on the cross for our sins so that we can receive the forgiveness of our sins and the gift of eternal life (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).  “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
     Jesus won the victory over sin and death.  And, if we will submit our lives to Him, we can share in His victory.
     God will save, give eternal life, and share the victory with those who place their faith and trust in Jesus (Acts 16:30-31), turn from their sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confess Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10), and are baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 2:38).  He will continue to cleanse from sin those who continue to walk in the light of His Word (1 John 1:7-9).
     Through Christ we can be victors, not losers – because He won the victory for us!    “But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57).
     YOU can share in Christ’s victory by trusting and obeying Him.  Won’t YOU?
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org
* Gary Smith in Sports Illustrated, quoted in Reader's Digest and shared in www.sermonillustrations.com.


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