Tuesday night Norma Jean and I enjoyed a Royals baseball game at Kaufman Stadium (known as “The K” to the locals). It was a fun game with filled with offense in an 8-6 Royals win over the Detroit Tigers.
The World Champion Royals are off to a to a respectable 9-5 start. Good enough for second place in the American League Central Division behind the White Sox.
The enjoyment of the game was only surpassed by the company of our friend Fred Patek, who played for the Royals back in the 1970’s. It’s so much fun to hear his baseball stories of legends like Yogi Berra, Frank Howard, Mickey Mantle, Bob Gibson, Gaylord Perry, Juan Marichal and George Brett.
However, one of my all time favorite baseball stories involves famed St. Louis Cardinal pitcher, Dizzy Dean, a member of the so-called “gas-house gang.” In 1934 Dizzy had a 30-7 record. He led the league in strike-outs. Led the league in shutouts. And won two games in the World Series, including the deciding seventh game to beat the Detroit Tigers. He was named MVP in 1934.
The following Spring in 1935 when the Rookies reported early for training camp, a reporter for the St. Louis Dispatch went to see their young talent. And who did he see? Dizzy Dean. The reporter was surprised that Dean reported early when he didn’t have to.
“Why?” asked the reporter. “After the kind of year you had. Why are you here with the Rookies, Diz?”
Dean replied, “Pardner, when you quit gettin’ better, you quit being good.”
That’s not just true in baseball. It’s true in business. Relationships. And in your Christian life.
Hebrew writer speaks of a second generation of Jewish Christians who were in danger of slipping. They had become neglectful. They were still on the spiritual milk of the word, when they should have been eating spiritual meat. They should be the ones teaching, but instead needed to be taught. But he encourages them by exhorting, “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you…” (Heb 6:7).
We are commanded to”grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet 3:18). We are expected to grow and mature (Eph. 4:13-16). And we are to become more Christ-like as we follow in His steps (2 Pet 2:21-25). In a word, we are to get better.
And I’ve heard people say, “I want to be a better Christian.” But what does that mean? How can you define it? Measure it? Quantify it?
Too often we compare our strengths with others’ weakness and deceive ourselves into thinking we’re better than most people so we’re just fine! Getting better begins with getting real! We must “examine ourselves” (2 Cor 13:5).
Here are a few questions to examine ourselves to see if we are getting better.
(1) Do I need to grow in my knowledge and understanding of scripture? (2 Tim. 2:15)
(2) Do I need better judgment in applying what I already know? (Phil 1:9)
(3) Do I need to develop deeper convictions? (1 Tim 1:12)
(4) Do I need to make greater commitments to developing my skills, gifts and abilities in service to the Lord? (1 Pet 4:10)
(5) Do I need to become more servant minded? (Matt 20:26-28)
(6) Do I need to add to my faith areas where I am lacking in virtue? (2 Pet 1:5-11)
(7) Do I need to be more engaged in opportunities to do good? (Gal. 6:10)
(8) Do I need to be a more devote husband? Wife? Parent?
(9) Do I need a better, deeper, stronger love? For God? For my neighbor? For my brethren?
Have you reached a spiritual plateau? Have you become complacent? Self-satisfied? Even over-confident?
Then it’s time get out of your comfort zone! Step out on faith to do more. To give more. To be more. To be better.
Spiritual growth take commitment. Work. And self-sacrifice. It never occurs accidently.
And never forget this: “If you quit gettin’ better, you quit being good.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman