Who Does Lin Play For?
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Not long ago hardly anyone had ever heard of Jeremy Lin. Now he's everywhere. When my struggling New York Knicks finally played him, he lit up the scoreboard with these amazing performances, game after game. Now, he's not your typical professional basketball star, that's for sure. He's a Harvard grad. He's Asian-American. He's refreshingly humble. Oh, and he unashamedly loves Jesus.
Now, he doesn't "Tebow." But he wears a bracelet that reveals where his heart is. It says, "For Jesus' name I play." Oh, sure, he plays on the New York Knicks, but he plays for Jesus. Which suggests a pretty good self-exam question to be asking, even for a sports klutz like me, "Who do I play for?" Now, that probing question demands that I stop and take stock on two fronts: whose glory am I playing for and whose approval am I playing for?
Well, our word for today from the Word of God in 1 Corinthians 10:31 lays it down straight on the glory issue. It says, "...whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God." And in Isaiah 42:8 it says, "I am the Lord; that is My name! I will not give My glory to another..." Boy, you don't want to mess with that!
So how much of what I do is to get people to notice me; to give me strokes? That's not a question any of us can answer once and for all. We've got to answer it before every "game." Can I honestly say it's "for Jesus' name I play," that I want Him to get all the attention, all the credit? At the moment I catch myself thinking, "Hey, ain't I somethin!" I've got to aim that spotlight toward heaven and say, "No! Isn't He somethin'!" The alternative is to hijack God's glory. And He just isn't going to let that happen.
But it's not just "whose glory?" that is the issue. There's the whole "whose approval?" thing. See, I'm a firstborn child, but I'm otherwise normal. And they say we oldest kids grow up wanting to please mom and dad, and we get real good at it. And soon, well we can intuitively figure out what it will take to please a teacher, or a boss, or friends, or people in general. We're not alone, of course, in being people-pleasers, but we're pretty good at it.
Now, it's easy to become an approval junkie, playing to get people to like you, to validate you. But ultimately, it's a life of slavery. It's a life of fear. You become, to a large extent, shaped and defined by other people's expectations - a slave. Oh, and then there's the fear thing: fear of rejection, fear of not being liked, which will, at some point, keep you from doing the right thing. People-pleasing becomes the gateway drug to sinful compromise of the truth, your integrity, your purity, your convictions, your Savior's name. It's a price that's too high to pay. The Bible nails it again, "Fear of man will prove to be a snare" (Proverbs 29:25).
The Bible writer, Paul, asks disturbingly: "Am I trying to win the approval of men or of God? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ" (Galatians 1:10). Ouch! And then, listen to Jeremiah, "Should you then seek great things for yourself? Seek them not" (Jeremiah 45:5).
Now, if Jeremy Lin's playing for Jesus, then he's a free man. Free from the dead-end street of stealing God's glory; free from the bondage and insecurity of trying to make everybody happy. Life is honestly a whole lot less confusing and conflicted when you've got only one person to please - the Person who loves you unconditionally, unendingly, unsparingly. Jesus, who abandoned His glory in heaven and the acclaim of angels to rescue you and me.
I'll never forget the lesson I learned the day that my young son was helping me with yard work. I was mowing, and he was doing the clipping after me. And at one point, I kind of flashed a smile his way. And a few minutes later, he came over and he shouted above all the mower noise, "Daddy, could you please do that again?" I turned down the mower and I said, "Do what again, son?" "Could you just smile at me again, Daddy? It's your smile that keeps me going."
That's what I want. I want to live for one thing - my Father's smile.