I am a big fan of sports, but I especially like basketball. One of the teams in the NBA which had a very successful season this year were the Toronto Raptors. I believe they had the most successful season in the history of the franchise. They won the most games in a single season, they won their division, and they advanced to the second round of the playoffs before getting beat by the team with the best player currently in the NBA. The team had such a good season that their coach was named “Coach of the Year.” The management of the team was so impressed with the season and the job everyone had done, that they fired the coach. They fired the same coach who days before had been given an award for being the best coach in the league this year.
Success Today, Failure Tomorrow
There is a message in this for us. Accolades, awards, honors, any adulation that may come our way in life are fleeting. Just imagine getting a reward for being “Coach of the Year" one day, and being fired from your job because you didn’t do good enough a few days later. This is a graphic portrayal of reality in the world. It is not only, “what have you done for me lately?” but even the reality that exceptional is not good enough.
The truth is, we work very hard to win the approval and appreciation of others in this world, and we can never really do enough to gain it and maintain it.
We do whatever it takes to be successful, whether it's spending hours on our work, or sacrificing priorities. This work ethic leads to the best season our team or company has ever had. We are recognized as being at the top of our profession, but we quickly discover it is not good enough. We can never be sure, we can never be certain, we can never be secure. Today’s success may not matter at all tomorrow. No matter how hard we try or how well we do, it isn’t really good enough.
The Free Gift
Then there is The Gospel, or The Good News. There is a God of such love and grace that He comes to us and tells us we don’t have to prove anything to Him. He tells us in fact that it is vanity and foolishness to try. He says we don’t have to earn or deserve His approval, His acceptance, or His love. He tells us that at one level we really aren’t good enough, but He goes on to say that our lack does not hinder His love. He says He loves us now and He will love us forever, and we do not have to be worthy of His love. He tells us it really is not based on our performance, but it is simply a gift, freely given to us. And He tells us this will not EVER change.
So the choice is ours. We can strive after the wind, trying in vain to achieve the fickle approval of the world, or we can surrender to the love of outstretched arms with nail-pierced hands.