- Monopoly – A Life of Service
- Luke 12:13-21
- Lyndol Loyd October 29, 2017
Monopoly was introduced in 1934 during the height of the Great Depression. The game was a wild success. The exciting promise of fame and fortune that the game seemed to offer its players made Monopoly a huge hit among the public.
In its history over two hundred million copies have been sold worldwide. It is the best-selling game in all the world – sold in eighty countries and produced in twenty-six languages. The game has been copied and duplicated in all different special editions like Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Nascar and much more. Neiman Marcus even put out an all-chocolate version of the game.
The longest game of Monopoly lasted seventy straight days. World records have been set – playing the game underwater (forty-five days) and in the bathtub (ninety-nine hours) and upside down (thirty-six hours).
A recent special version of the game is called the “America Edition”. The cover of the box reads, “Celebrating life, liberty and the pursuit of property.”
What are your Monopoly memories? What is your strategy? Do you buy the railroads or the utility companies? Do you try to control the low rent district or do you go for the uptown properties like Boardwalk and Park Place?
Monopoly is a great game to play, but it’s a terrible way to live your life. The underlying principle in Monopoly is to acquire property, gain riches and crush your fellow players.
Interestingly enough, Jesus once told a story about a man who would have no doubt been a Monopoly champion if the game had existed during his time. We find it in Luke 12:13-21.
13 Then someone called from the crowd, “Teacher, please tell my brother to divide our father’s estate with me.”
14 Jesus replied, “Friend, who made me a judge over you to decide such things as that?” 15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
16 Then he told them a story: “A rich man had a fertile farm that produced fine crops. 17 He said to himself, ‘What should I do? I don’t have room for all my crops.’ 18 Then he said, ‘I know! I’ll tear down my barns and build bigger ones. Then I’ll have room enough to store all my wheat and other goods. 19 And I’ll sit back and say to myself, “My friend, you have enough stored away for years to come. Now take it easy! Eat, drink, and be merry!”’
20 “But God said to him, ‘You fool! You will die this very night. Then who will get everything you worked for?’
21 “Yes, a person is a fool to store up earthly wealth but not have a rich relationship with God.”
Here is something we can learn from Monopoly. No matter who wins the game and acquires the most, no matter by how big a margin, in the end it is still just a game. It doesn’t really matter.
Sometimes we chase after success so hard we can’t see anything else. What we need to do is make sure we focus on the things that will last.
The Bible defines success differently. If we really want to take Jesus seriously then we will listen to what he has to say about success and how we should spend our lives. If we really want him in our lives and we really want what He offers then we need to look at the guidebook for the Christian life.
In Mark 10 Jesus defines success. He tells his disciples that whoever wants to be great, whoever wants to be a success, will be the one who is the greatest servant. Then he added this in Mark 10:45, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Our culture says that if we want to make it to the top we’ve got to step on a few heads. If we’re going to be number one then we’ve got to push and shove our way in. We’ve got to prove we are important and acquire and succeed and have all the things that say that about us. But Jesus said success is not stepping on people, it’s helping them up.
It’s serving, without expecting in return. He says, “Look at my example. I had the kingdom of heaven at my feet. I gave up heaven and became a man. I became a servant. And that’s what I want you to do too.”
If service is the path to true success in life then I think it might be beneficial to each of us if we take some time to examine the byproducts of service.
- Serving says I love others
When we serve, it is the ultimate expression of love for one another. John 13:34-35 says, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”
Years and years ago, the Salvation Army, which is known for its servant attitude, held a big convention in the Midwest and the founder, General William Booth, was to speak. But because of an illness, he could not be there. He promised that he would send a telegram with a message that would set the direction for the next decade of where the Salvation Army was heading.
They were all excited. The Convention Center was packed out with Salvation Army people, waiting in anticipation. They got the telegram. This was the telegram that would cast the vision for their entire organization for the next ten years. They opened the telegram and it simply read – “Others”. Servanthood is a selfless act and it says “love” like no other act.
- Serving says I love God
2 Corinthians 9:12 makes it clear, “This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God’s people but also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God” (NIV)
There comes a time in every Christ follower’s life where they become fully aware of the sacrifice that Christ made for each of us and we can’t help but become servants.
Romans 12:1 says, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.”
One of the reasons why we should serve is because of what God has done for us. When we think of what Jesus Christ has done for us, the sacrifice that He’s made for us, there is no sacrifice that we can make for Him that will ever compare to what He’s already done for us.
- Serving meets the needs of the Church
Think about when you came in this morning. Do you know who made your coffee? Or who set out the cookies? Who’s holding your baby right now so you can come to church to worship this morning? Who greeted you at the door? Who handed you your program?
Why do they do this? They do it because they want you to experience a meaningful worship experience. Because collectively, we all make up what the Bible calls “the Body of Christ,” the Church.
2 Corinthians 12:27 says “Now all of you together are Christ’s body, and each one of you is a separate and necessary part of it.”
What happens when one part of your body fails to function? You get sick. The rest of your body suffers. Imagine if your liver decided to start living for itself. “I’m tired! I don’t want to serve the body anymore! I want a year off just to be fed. I’ve got to do what’s best for me. Let some other parts take over.”
What would happen? Your body would die. Many churches are dying because of Christians who are unwilling to serve. When we sit on the sidelines as spectators the body suffers.
God gives each of us a gift. The spiritual gift he gives each of us isn’t for us, it’s for others, it’s for the Church because we are all members of one body. Together we can accomplish great things and do the work God intended for the Church.
- Serving brings true fulfillment
Here is something that I know about you. God designed you the way he did for a reason.
Ephesians 2:10, “We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” You are God’s handcrafted work of art. You are not an assembly line product created without thought. You are custom designed, one of a kind original masterpiece.
When God made you He made you for a reason. He has in mind a particular place or way for you to serve and when you find it, it will come along with a tremendous amount of satisfaction. Because that is the way He made you.
Bill Hybels is the pastor of the Willow Creek Community Church. He tells a story about a note he got from a new believer at his church. One guy wrote this: “My life used to be about one thing—me. I was a self-serving guy who had neither purpose nor passion in life. I was leading a miserable life—cheap beer and cheap thrills. And then, one day, I wandered into this church. After listening for quite a while, I heard the message of Christ and gave him my life. And then I heard you say, ‘Give your life away to others, and you will find your life instead.’ I didn’t have much to give up, so I said, ‘I’ll give it a shot.’ And then things changed for me. When I started serving others, my relationship with Christ became much more real. It moved past me just going to church. I found a purpose and a reason for my very existence. Today, my life is richer than I ever believed it could be. Serving people has become central in my life. Leaving the spectator stands was one of the best decisions I ever made.”
This is the fringe benefit of serving. We experience fulfillment and satisfaction that is unmatched. The opposite is true when we try to find satisfaction in accomplishments or possessions.
Solomon is a person in the Bible who had everything. He was the King of Israel when it was at its pinnacle. The Bible says he was the wisest and the richest man who ever lived. If Solomon was playing Monopoly he would have owned both Boardwalk and Park Place, all four of the railroads and every property in between.
Solomon wrote several books in the Bible, one of which is Ecclesiastes. Here is what he says in chapter 2,
4 I also tried to find meaning by building huge homes for myself and by planting beautiful vineyards. 5 I made gardens and parks, filling them with all kinds of fruit trees. 6 I built reservoirs to collect the water to irrigate my many flourishing groves. 7 I bought slaves, both men, and women, and others were born into my household. I also owned large herds and flocks, more than any of the kings who had lived in Jerusalem before me. 8 I collected great sums of silver and gold, the treasure of many kings and provinces. I hired wonderful singers, both men, and women, and had many beautiful concubines. I had everything a man could desire!
9 So I became greater than all who had lived in Jerusalem before me, and my wisdom never failed me. 10 Anything I wanted, I would take. I denied myself no pleasure. I even found great pleasure in hard work, a reward for all my labors. 11 But as I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless—like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere.
Having it all didn’t fulfill Solomon and it won’t fulfill us either. When we expect to find satisfaction in possessions or power or wealth, what we find is that they don’t satisfy. We find satisfaction and fulfillment when we serve.
- Serving glorifies God
I’ve never been a real big fan of the Simpsons, but I realize that the show is incredibly popular with many people. My understanding is that one of the Simpson’s neighbors is a guy named Ned Flanders who is portrayed as a Christian.
In one of the episodes, Ned and his family are just getting home when Homer Simpson asks where they’ve been. Ned proudly proclaims they have been to Christian camp learning to be more judgmental and intolerant of others.
Unfortunately, that’s a stereotype a lot of people have about Christians. However, when we serve others it cuts directly across those types of caricatures and invites people to experience the God who really is and what he calls us to be, rather than false images of God and stereotypes of Christianity.
Servanthood is so counter-cultural that when you are a servant people can’t help but notice and wonder why.
It is one thing for me to talk to you about the byproducts of leading a life of service. It is something altogether different for you to hear someone’s story of service. This morning I’d like for us to turn our attention to the screen as Teddy Carson, a member of LakeRidge, shares how leading a life of service has impacted her. Let’s take a look…