Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Don't Waste Your Softball Season

So I co-coach our church softball team this year. I've played for around 5 years, but this is the first year that I'm coaching. One privilege that I enjoy in that setting is delivering a devotional at the end of our home games. I thought I'd post what I said recently, as I led one of these post-game devotionals.


I’ve noticed lately that I like and enjoy listening to people speak when they speak about ultimate things. I like to see the big picture. I like to trace the details as far back as they can go so I can get at the goal I’m aiming for. If I know what it is, ultimately, that I’m supposed to be after, the details in my life can all be directed at that one thing. I want to read a couple of passages in the Bible that talk about what that one thing should be.

  • Isaiah 43:6-7 – Bring My sons from afar And My daughters from the ends of the earth, Everyone who is called by My name, And whom I have created for My glory, Whom I have formed, even whom I have made.
  • Romans 11:36 For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.
  • Colossians 1:16 …all things have been created through Him and for Him.

These verses teach that our ultimate purpose in life – the reason why we were created – is to glorify God in His Son, Jesus Christ. And so all the details in my life can be aimed at this one ultimate purpose. And that’s what 1 Corinthians 10:31 says. It gets all the way down to the most "mundane" of details. Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

So I had this in mind at the start of the softball season. And I asked myself what it meant to glorify God in playing softball. Did it mean to play well? To play to the best of my ability? Did it mean to win? Did it mean to just not get angry at myself or the other team?

The verse that came to my mind as I was meditating on this was Philippians 2:14-16. It says this: Do all things without grumbling or disputing; so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life.

Do all things without grumbling and disputing. Why? For what purpose? So that you will prove yourselves to be children of God. So that your lives will reflect that you are actually a child of God. So that your character represents the very character of God accurately. So that you will present what God is like to the world, and therefore will be as lights. Glorifying God in softball means having the same attitude of Christ (cf. Phil 2:5ff), considering others better than ourselves (2:3), doing nothing out of rivalry or vein conceit (2:3). It means being so satisfied in Christ that when a call doesn’t go my way, or when someone runs into me “by accident,” or when somebody’s giving me a hard time, or when I pop out for the fourth time of the game, this time leaving the tying runs stranded on base, that I don’t feel the need to grumble and dispute.

We need to consider what it means to glorify God in playing church softball. Because if we don’t we face the danger of wasting our time this season. If all we do is get out on Monday nights and play some softball, hang out, and go home, we’re just another social club. We could be a Christian softball league, but there’d be nothing to distinguish us from any other kind of softball league. We could be Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, New-Age Spirituality gurus, or just another beer league. And no matter how much “fun” we think we’d be having or how much exercise we’d get, we’d waste the entire experience of Monday night softball.

I say we’d waste the time, because, again, everything we have in our lives is loaned to us by God to glorify Him. We’re stewards -- not owners -- of everything we have. And everything we have -- including the opportunity and ability to play a game one night a week with other guys -- is given to us for a particular reason by God. And that reason is to make much of Him... to make Him look big, and good, and pleasant, and satisfying, and beautiful. That’s what it means to glorify God: to present Him accurately, as He is, so that He actually looks big and praiseworthy, and satisfying to people.

It means that people can worship God in Christ, because they saw Him presented accurately in your words and in your actions.

And so if we don’t do that, there’s nothing to distinguish us from any of those groups named above. But one way we can do that is to live out the practical beauty of Philippians 2:14-16 because we’re conscious of the reality and truth that we exist to present the glory of God to the world, and to each other.

So let's not waste the 2 to 3 hours we spend together on Monday nights for the rest of the season. That's a lot of time to waste. Let's play, think, act, and speak in such a way that no one looking from the outside could think that we are anything other than a group of Christians who happen to be playing softball. Let's glorify our God on Monday nights.

Don’t waste your softball season.

And if you’re here tonight and you’re not a Christian, something even greater is at stake for you. You could waste your life. You could go through your entire life not working toward the goal – the ultimate purpose of everything in creation – to glorify your Creator in His Son. You could have a great job, or a great wife, or great obedient kids, or a great house, or a great car, or great friends. You might have even tricked yourself into thinking you're happy and fulfilled. But if you don’t do everything in your life to magnify the worth of the One who made you, you won't know true Joy, and you’ll waste your life.

And the way that you begin to glorify God is first by believing in His Son (Heb 11:6). By believing that what God says about you is true. That you’re totally unrighteous, that you have absolutely no grounds upon which to commend yourself to God (Ecc 7:20; Is 64:6; Job 40:9-10). That you’re hopeless before His holiness (Rom 5:6-11), because you could never attain to the standard of perfection that He is (Rom 3:23; 1Jn 1:5-6; 2Cor 6:14ff). Believe that. Confess that it’s true.

And then believe that God sent His own Son (Jn 3:16), whom He delighted in (Is 42:1), who was entirely perfect (1Jn3:5), and who, unlike you, was righteous, and could commend Himself to God. Believe that that Son willingly paid your death penalty for your unrighteousness, and in the process gave you His perfect righteousness (2Cor 5:21). Believe that Jesus’ righteousness – a righteousness outside yourself – is the only thing that can commend you to God. Repent and believe the Gospel.

Don’t waste your life.

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