When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box

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What is the appropriate way to measure our personal value? The most common measurements include possessions, personal financial worth, or our social standing. While these things may add to our sense of self worth, their power ends with our dying breath.

The only real thing we can count on to measure eternal worth is the relationship we have with Jesus Christ.

This is the premise behind John Ortberg’s study entitled, When the Game Is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box.

Will we be approved when the game pieces go back in the box? We encourage you to participate in lesson one of this video study with teaching from John Ortberg. The entire study is available on Study Gateway.

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When the Game Is Over…

Life, no matter how we play it, will not go on forever. When the game is over it’s all going to end up in the same place. As an ancient Italian proverb put it: “Pawn and king alike, they all go back in the bag.” ~ John Ortberg

Let’s Think About It

Imagine for a moment that life is like a game. What, then, is our goal or objective — what is it that we want to “win” in the game of life? What do you think is the most important secret to learn in order to play the game of life well?

As you watch this session’s teaching segment, feel free to use the following outline as a guide for taking notes.

  • Learning to play the game
  • When the game is over
  • Learning to number our days
  • Learning to be rich toward God

Watch the Video

DVD Discussion

  1. What is the great lesson of life that John learned through playing Monopoly®, and why is it such an important lesson to learn?

When have you wished, as John did when he finally beat his grandmother at Monopoly, that your accomplishments could remain as a permanent memorial of your greatness? What did you learn as a result of that unmet desire?

  1. Which attitudes and actions often become evident in our lives when we lose sight of the everything-goes-back-in-the box truth?

Which of your personal experiences or observations of other people and their experiences stand out in your mind as reminders of the truth that everything goes back in the box?

  1. How would you define what it means to be “rich toward God”?

What might a life that is rich toward God look like?

Bible Exploration

  1. Read Luke 12:13-21 (Jesus’ story of the rich fool), then discuss which images stand out to you — and why.

What are some ways in which people today demonstrate the attitudes and actions of the brothers or the rich fool in Jesus’ story?

How does Jesus’ response to the man’s question about sharing in his brother’s inheritance cause you to want to reorder your life priorities?

  1. The Bible has much to say about the nature and meaning of life and how to live it well. Let’s consider a few representative passages to see how its perspective differs from ours.
  2. What is the source of everything we are and everything we have in life? (See Deuteronomy 8:17-18; Psalm 24:1; James 1:17.) In what ways does this contradict our human centered perspective?
  3. Although we may want our accomplishments to last forever, what does the Bible say happens to them when our life is over? (See Job 1:21; Ecclesiastes 2:18-23; 1 John 2:15-17.)
  4. In contrast to the belief that achievement brings contentment, what is the “secret” to being truly content in life? (See Matthew 6:19-20; 1 Timothy 6:6-8; Hebrews 13:5.) What are some ways we can put the biblical principles of contentment into practice in our daily lives?

Just a Reminder…

What lasts forever?              

God

Other people

My soul

Deeds of love

What goes back in the box?

Possessions, money, and pleasures

My résumé, titles, and positions

My body, physical attractiveness, youth, and health

Power and security People’s opinions of me

Personal Journey: To Do Now

All of us have hopes and dreams for life. We long to play the game to win, but often the life we want seems to slip from our grasp. We lose sight of what is truly important and expend our energy on things that merely go back in the box when the game is over. That’s why the message of Psalm 90:12 is so important for us to take to heart:

Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.

  1. As you consider your life — where you have been, where you are today, where you’d like to be (and what you’d like to do) tomorrow — what is it you are trying to “win” and which strategy are you using in the game?

Do you think your goal and strategy will truly satisfy you? Why or why not?

  1. What impact has this session had on your perspective of what is temporary and eternal?

Which perspective, the temporal or the eternal, has most influenced your everyday decisions in the past? If you need to develop a more eternal perspective, how might you go about doing that?

  1. To what extent have you been seeking to live a life that is rich in God’s eyes? How might you want this to change in the future?
  2. Throughout the Bible, God makes it clear that he desires to be in relationship with the people he has created — to “be their God” and to “dwell among them” (Exodus 29:45-46). So, if we want to live a life that is rich toward God, the most important thing is to give him the full devotion of our hearts. Perhaps this desire is best expressed in a conversation that took place between Jesus and Peter in John 21:15-17:

When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me more than these?” “Yes, Lord,” he said, “You know that I love You.” Jesus said, “Feed My lambs.”  

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you truly love Me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, You know that I love You.” Jesus said, “Take care of My sheep.”

The third time He said to him, “Simon son of John, do you love Me?”

Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, “Do you love Me?” He said, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.”

Jesus said, “Feed My sheep.”

The devotion that Jesus was asking of Peter was the devotion of loving God with all of his heart, soul, mind, and strength and then loving people as he loved himself. It’s an opportunity God still offers to people today:

If anyone loves Me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him. — John 14:23

How will you respond?

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Your Turn

Come share your answers to the study questions on our blog! We want to hear from you!




John Ortberg

John Ortberg is senior pastor at Menlo Park Presbyterian Church in Menlo Park, California. He is the bestselling author of Who is this Man, When the Game is Over, It All Goes Back in the Box, The Life You've Always Wanted and If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat. John and his wife, Nancy, have three grown children.

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