Last week, my daughter’s 6-7th grade basketball team from Tattnall Square Academy won its local C-team basketball championship in exciting fashion against long-time rival, Stratford Academy.
The atmosphere was electric! Cheering from both stands gave it the sound and feel of a Friday night varsity game. If you had walked in off the street, you wouldn’t have known the difference.
Both teams represented their schools to the highest standard and each player left their sweat, effort and hearts on the court…as it should be.
When the final horn sounded, Tattnall’s student-body, middle and high schoolers alike, stormed the court surrounding our girls. The celebration continued into the locker room and beyond; a memory always to be treasured.
Afterward, a thought I’ve had many times before returned: Does God really give a hoot who wins these games?
I know I do.
Every time my daughter and her teammates play, I’m pulling for them just as hard as the parents from the opposing side are pulling for their kids. If the goal isn’t to win, then why practice? Why put in all the hard work and long hours?
Philippians 4:13, the famous verse that is directly linked to athletics and has been written on eye-black, shoes, and taped up wrists for decades, states: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
This Sunday, Super Bowl 50 will pit the Denver Broncos against the Carolina Panthers. Each team’s sole objective is to win. But, one team is going to lose.
So, is Philippians 4:13 just meant for the winning team? Because, I promise you, someone from the winning team will thank God for the victory. There’s nothing wrong with that but what’s the Christian on the losing team saying? “God, you let us down?” “Why did you favor the them and not us?”
The Apostle Paul writes in I Corinthians 9:24: “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.”
Paul is doubling-down. Not only can you “do all things through Christ” but one of those goals should be “to get the prize.” It is clearly encouraged.
Still, that begs my question, which cheering section will the Lord be in on Super Sunday (or any game that is played)?
Just as He wasn’t rooting for Tattnall over Stratford, He won’t be dabbing for Cam Newton or yelling “Omaha” in unison with Peyton Manning.
The Lord desires something more important than top billing on the scoreboard or a trophy that will ultimately gather dust.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men..” Colossians 3:23
First, God wants our hearts! Then He wants us to use the talents He blessed us with to the utmost. He wants us to be grateful of those gifts, giving Him thanks and glorifying His name through our effort.
In the end, God has only one team that He roots for and encourages everyday. Those are His kids, the ones that have chosen His Son, Jesus Christ, as their personal Lord and Savior.
Maybe one of our seventh-graders said it best when she ended her prayer each time by saying – “whether we win or lose, may we do it all for the glory of You.”