Listen to this sermon: 05202012AreYouAPlayerOrAPretenderDonRuhl

Download the notes: 05202012AreYouAPlayerOrAPretender

Are You a Player or a Pretender?

When it comes to Christianity and the church, what kind of person are you?

Luke 10.25–37

This sermon based on and adapted from: “Knowing the difference between players and pretenders” By John C. Maxwell, found at:

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • May 20, ad 2012

Scripture Reader and Reading: Kadin – Third John 5–8


  1. Who wants eternal life? 
    1. Would you like to know what you can do to inherit eternal life?
    2. Would you like to know what the Bible or the Lord says about it?

      27 So [the lawyer] answered and said, “‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind,’ and ‘your neighbor as yourself.’” 28 And [Jesus] said to him, “You have answered rightly; do this and you will live” (Luke 10.27, 28).

      1. What does that include? How can you do those things?
      2. The story in the Bible continues,

        30 Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead. 31 Now by chance a certain priest came down that road. And when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 32 Likewise a Levite, when he arrived at the place, came and looked, and passed by on the other side. 33 But a certain Samaritan, as he journeyed, came where he was. And when he saw him, he had compassion. 34 So he went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine; and he set him on his own animal, brought him to an inn, and took care of him. 35 On the next day, when he departed, he took out two denarii, gave them to the innkeeper, and said to him, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I come again, I will repay you.’ 36 So which of these three do you think was neighbor to him who fell among the thieves?” (Luke 10.30–36).

        1. Let us adapt the question of Jesus in this way:
        2. Who were the players and who were the pretenders in religion?
          1. The Samaritan was the player, and
          2. the priest and the Levite were the pretenders.
            1. If you become a crime victim,
            2. which of those three do you want passing your way?
      3. Now we can understand what happens in the next verse,

        37 And he said, “He who showed mercy on him.” Then Jesus said to him, “Go and do likewise” (Luke 10.37).
  2. When it comes to Christianity and the church, are you a player or a pretender? 


  1. Players Serve Others; Pretenders Serve Self

    3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others (Phi 2.3, 4).

    1. Players think and operate to bless others.
    2. Pretenders think and operate to bless themselves.
  2. Players Seek the Mission; Pretenders Seek the Position

    37 They said to Him, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (Mark 10.37).

    23 Now this I do for the gospel’s sake, that I may be partaker of it with you (1Co 9.23).

    5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake (2Co 4.5).

    24 I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church… (Col 1.24).

    10 Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory (2Ti 2.10).

    1. Players will give up a position to achieve a mission.
    2. Pretenders will give up a mission to achieve a position.
  3. Players Deliver; Pretenders Promise

    16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. 17 But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him? 18 My little children, let us not love in word or in tongue, but in deed and in truth (1Jo 3.16–18).

    1. Players work to complete the task.
    2. Pretenders only claim the ability to do so.
  4. Players Are Content; Pretenders Are Dissatisfied

    12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need (Phi 4.12).

    1. Players love being Christians.
    2. Pretenders makes excuses for their lack of contentment.
  5. Players Rejoice When Others Succeed; Pretenders Rejoice When They Succeed

    4 …love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; 5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked… (1Co 13.4, 5).

    10 Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another (Rom 12.10).

    15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Rom 12.15).

  6. Players Value Integrity; Pretenders Value Self-Image 
    1. Compare David and Saul.
    2. Integrity is like a ship with its main weight under the surface.
  7. Players Serve a Cause Greater than Self; Pretenders Use a Cause to Exalt Self

    5 Beloved, you do faithfully whatever you do for the brethren and for strangers… (3Jo 5).

    9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us (3Jo 9).

    3 Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, 4 who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles (Rom 16.3, 4).

  8. Players Count the Cost; Pretenders Want a Discount

    25 Now great multitudes went with Him. And He turned and said to them, 26 “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. 28 For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it— 29 lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, 30 saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’ 31 Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand? 32 Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace. 33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14.25–33).


  1. Players add to the team’s value; pretenders cost the team. 
    1. True Christians add to the church.
    2. Pretend Christians cost the church.
  2. Does God want pretenders or players in heaven? 
    1. If you do not know, answer these questions:
      1. If you own a business, do you want pretenders or players working for you?
        1. When you go into a business,
        2. do you want pretenders or players serving you?
      2. If you coach a team, do you want pretenders or players on your team?
        1. When you go watch a game,
        2. do you want pretenders or players on the field?
      3. As a citizen of America,
        1. do you want pretenders or players in the military?
        2. do you want pretenders or players in the police force?
      4. As a patient, do you want a pretender or a player for a doctor?
        1. When the surgeon operates on you,
        2. do you want a pretender or a player holding the scalpel?
    2. If Jesus left the most blessed place that exists
      1. to live here and suffer beyond imagination,
      2. do you think He wants pretenders or players in the church?
        1. In Acts 20, Paul told the elders of a local congregation
          1. to take heed to themselves and to the church, because
          2. of the price Jesus paid for the church,

            28 “Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood” (Acts 20.28).

      3. Does Jesus want pretenders or players as shepherds of the church?
    3. Was Jesus a pretender or a player?
  3. Let us not then think that we can 
    1. pretend in the church,
    2. pretend with our personal Christianity, and
      1. God will delightfully invite us into heaven.
  4. When it comes to the game of life, who succeeds? 
    1. Be successful in life by being a player.
      1. Here is what I did this past week.
      2. Several times when I was tempted this past week to sin,
        1. I started talking to myself, telling myself
        2. that I am a player and not a pretender, and
          1. that helped me to overcome the temptation, and
          2. to get me back into being the kind of man that I need to be.
    2. Be successful in the church by being a player.
      1. Then the Lord will invite you into heaven,

        13 Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Write: ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them” (Rev 14.13).

        21 “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord’” (Matt 25.21).

  5. One final question for you to contemplate as we sing the invitation song. 
    1. For your life now, and for the time of entering heaven later,
    2. do you want God to be a pretender or a player for you?