People were screaming, car horns were honking, fireworks were popping as the Cinderella Saints won Super Bowl XLIV last night. Even yours truly, a diehard Peyton Manning fan, was acting quite the fool, jumping up-and-down and screaming. From the heart of New Orleans, throughout Louisiana, and across the nation, people were tuned in and turned on to Saints mania — 106.5 million to be exact, the largest television viewing audience ever! Wow!
Now, if only we could get that lathered up over being a saint — a real saint, that is, not a football player or a team fan.
Saint = chesidh (Hebrew)
“…kind, benevolent, gracious…holy one”*
“Saint” is rooted in the Hebrew word chesed (often translated as lovingkindness). One of the most important words in the Old Testament, chesed carries the idea of a superior bending down to perform an act of kindness for an inferior. So when Christians are called “saints,” it has nothing to do with what they’ve done or how they live; it has everything to do with what God has done for them.
Think about it: The God of the universe didn’t just bend down to perform some kind act; He came down to earth to perform the greatest act of kindness the world has ever known. He took our place on the cross, cancelled our sin debt, and paid the price for eternal life! And to those who have accepted His gift, to those who believe in Him, God gave them the right to be called “saints.”
Wow! Shouldn’t we be doing a lot of screaming? Shouldn’t car horns be honking? Shouldn’t fireworks be popping? Shouldn’t the saints of God be more excited over this victory than over a ballgame win?
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever (1 Corinthians 9:24-25).
Let me put that in today’s vernacular. Only one team can win a ballgame. So all the competing athletes get into a training program, learn to work together, and strive to be the best team possible. All the winner gets, however, is a trophy and a title; a trophy that gets dusty, rusty, and forgotten, and a title that lasts only a year.
But saints? Our victory has already been won through the cross of Christ! It’s really, really true:
Saints win! Saints win!
*From the Lexical Aids to the Old Testament included in The Complete Word Study Old Testament by Spiros Zodhiates (AMG Publishers 1994).