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Brett Favre on Peyton Manning breaking his TD record

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Peyton Manning, Indianpolis Colts quarterback meets with Green Bay Packers quarterback Brett Favre following a 45-31 Colts win over the Packers at the RCA Dome in Indianpolis, September 26, 2004 (Credit: AP/Michael Conroy)

Peyton Manning has thrown 503 touchdown passes in his career, 12 of them over four games this season.  At that pace, he will throw six more over the next two games.  When he does, he will surpass Brett Favre’s 508 career TD passes, a record once thought unbreakable.

How does Favre feel about losing his record to Manning?

“I’m glad it’s Peyton that’s doing it,” he told an interviewer.  “I think a lot of Peyton.  I know him well.  I know his family well.  His dad was one of my idols.”  Favre is from Mississippi, where Manning’s father was a college football legend at Ole Miss.

They say records are made to be broken, but some seem less breakable than others: Wilt Chamberlain’s 100 points in a single NBA game; Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak; Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA in 1968; Cy Young’s 511 wins; Byron Nelson’s 11 straight PGA victories in 1945; Nolan Ryan’s 5,714 strikeouts; Jerry Rice’s 22,895 career receiving yards; the Boston Celtics’ eight straight NBA titles.  Then again, Lou Gehrig’s “ironman” streak of 2,130 consecutive games seemed to belong on the list until Cal Ripkin broke it in 1995.

Only the world’s best athletes get to write their names in the record books for all time.  But any of us can write our names in books that matter even more.

First, there’s the “book of life”: “Only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life” will be in heaven (Revelation 21:27).  In fact, “if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).  But if Jesus is your Lord, your name is written there forever.  Jesus tells his followers to “rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (Luke 10:20).  Paul addressed the Philippian Christians as “my fellow laborers, whose names are in the book of life” (Philippians 4:3).

Second, there’s the “book of works.”  Standing before God, “the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Revelation 20:12).  In question will not be your eternal salvation, but your eternal reward in paradise.  Paul describes this judgment: “If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss” (1 Corinthians 3:14-15).  Why will we suffer “loss” of reward?

  • Secret, unconfessed sins will be judged: “God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:14).
  • “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:2-3).
  • Our words will be judged: “I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken” (Matthew 12:36-37).
  • After listing all sorts of sin, Peter declared that those who do such things “will have to give account to him who is ready to judge the living and the dead” (1 Peter 4:5).

Ungodly, unconfessed sins, thoughts, or words will be revealed at the judgment and burned away.  Because heaven is perfect, these things cannot enter in; they must be burned off, destroyed.  Sin is forgiven, but reward is lost.

On the other hand, “gold, silver, costly stones” are rewarded.  What kind of rewards?

  • There is the “crown of life”: “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).  Jesus said, “Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Revelation 2:10).
  • There is the “soul-winner’s crown”: “What is our hope, our joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes?  Is it not you?  Indeed, you are our glory and joy” (1 Thessalonians 2:19-20).
  • There is the “crown of righteousness”: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.  Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
  • For Christian leaders there is the “crown of glory”: “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:2-4).

Gold, silver, costly stones will be rewarded with everlasting crowns.  For what?  Enduring temptation; winning souls; staying faithful to God’s purpose; serving God’s people in love.  These are works whose rewards last forever.

It is not likely that the sports world will celebrate your enduring athletic achievements or mine.  But it is guaranteed that our present faithful service to our King will be remembered and rewarded for all time.  Millennia after Peyton Manning throws his last touchdown pass, your next act of obedience will echo in eternity.

Our Father longs to say to you, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:23).  What have you done today to deserve such praise?