A PASSAGE TO PONDER: Jeremiah 9:23-24

Following Clemson’s rout of Alabama Monday night to win their third national championship and Coach Dabo Swinney’s second title, he wasn’t interested in basking in the spotlight.

“All the credit – all the glory – goes to the good Lord,” Swinney said during a nationally televised postgame interview.

Swinney was a gracious, humble and charming winner. “There are so many great coaches that are so deserving of a moment like this and never get the chance to experience it. And to get to do it once and then to get to do it again, it’s a blessing, and it’s just simply the grace of the good Lord to allow us to experience something like this. …

In an interview last summer, Swinney was asked by a reporter about his faith. “That’s the easiest question I’ve had all day,” the coach responded. “To me, its just the priorities of my life. I made a decision when I was 16. I grew up in a family where I was taught there was a God, but I didn’t really have a relationship with Christ until I was 16. That was a game-changer for me, it has really become a foundation in my life.”

“It’s hard to survive and thrive in this world if you don’t have a spiritual foundation and something that will give you peace,” Swinney further elaborated. “‘Cause life is hard. And we’re all gonna experience death, failure, setbacks, disappointment, cancer — it’s a really difficult world. For me, my relationship with Christ has given me hope and peace.”

I would say the young men under Dabo Swinney’s influence are learning a lot more about life than just how to play football. His response reminds me of a powerful passage in Jeremiah 9:23-24

“Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom,
Let not the mighty man glory in his might,
Nor let the rich man glory in his riches;
But let him who glories glory in this,
That he understands and knows Me,
That I am the Lord, exercising lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness in the earth.
For in these I delight,” says the Lord.

Israel had forgotten God. They relied on the wrong things. The wisdom of their leaders. Their ritualistic religion. And their infatuation with idolatrous practices. Their glory was misplaced.

Neither education, wealth or power assures God’s favor. He is not impressed with a country’s gross national product, its political influence or the strength of its military. Furthermore, our personal successes do not cause God to love us more or guarantee His approval of our lives.

It is too easy to look at our careers, our investments, and our material possessions and feel smug about what we’ve acquired. All the while forgetting that by God’s grace He has provided the opportunity, the resources and the ability to obtain whatever accomplishments we’ve achieved.

Twice the apostle Paul in his letters to the Corinthians reminds us to give God the glory.

In his first epistle, he warns against elevating human wisdom and worldly power and position above the simplicity of the gospel and God’s wisdom.
“He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

In the second epistle, he writes about false teachers who one writer described as “members of a mutual admiration society” criticizing Paul and complimenting one other. Paul reminded them and us that “he who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” For not he who commends himself is approved, but whom the Lord commends” (2 Cor 10:17-18).

It is possible, as a preacher friend of mine recently admitted on his facebook posts, to even feel an unwarranted pride in our spiritual accomplishments. Church growth as measured by the human standards of attendance, conversions, contribution, facilities and programs may result in elders or preachers taking the credit. We all need to be busy about sowing the seed, watering and then letting God give the increase. It is to Him that the glory belongs.

It is refreshing to hear a big-time college coach remind us that there are more important things in life than sports. Or who won a ball game.

Of course, the Bible has already revealed that fact. “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.”

–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman

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