I am not encouraging laziness. Lack of zeal in the Christian life is a sin. We need to be disciplined as Christians. We should know our Bibles through and through. We should be prayer warriors. Our worship should be lively and vigorous. We should tithe at least 10% and more if we can. We should bring our children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. For me, I should labor hard over the text to make an excellent sermon. But zeal doesn’t eliminate sin. There is a subtle temptation when we work hard to look around for the cameras. We end up wanting praise from men instead of praise from God. Can you be happy to lead a disciplined God-honoring life if no one notices? Would you be just as joyful if all your labor was done in the dark with no cameras and no praise? Are you upset inside when you work hard to help someone and no thanks comes your way? Ladies do you get upset when your labors at home go unnoticed? Men, does it upset you when you dig in at work and someone else gets promoted? Praise from men is gratifying when it comes. But if we are looking for it, longing for it, or upset when we don’t get it then we need to do a motivation check. Instead of seeking God’s praise, we might just be flexing for the cameras.
NFL wide receivers are some of the most disciplined and physically gifted men on the planet. They are in top physical condition. They are big, strong, and fast. They carefully watch what goes into their body. They have certain foods they eat and others they don’t eat. Most have a regular routine of vitamins and supplements they take. These athletes have precise exercise routines that include a variety of workouts. During the off season, which runs from February through July, they refine and hone their receiving skills, spending hours with their quarterback. But it is not just the physical discipline. They watch hours of film each week as they study their opponents. They study their playbook learning dozens of different plays and variations on those plays so they can make in-game adjustments. They have the courage to catch the football even if they are about to be crushed by a safety. If you have six minutes, here is a link to some of the best catches by the best receiver in the NFL right now, Calvin Johnson. You should be awed by what he can do. If you want to see a living, breathing example of discipline, watch these men.
But what is the point of all this discipline? Why do they do it? Of course, there is always the goal of winning. Every athlete wants to win. But again why? Why do they spend hours and hours refining their skills? Why do they want to win the Super Bowl? The answer for many of these men is simple: self-glorification. Their primary goal for all their hours, all their labor, all their careful attention to detail is so they can flex their muscles in front of the camera or thump their chests when they score a touchdown.
Christians look at men like Calvin Johnson (pictured above) and shake our heads in disgust. The arrogance of many pro-athletes is hard to stomach. But the truth is we often do the same thing. We read our Bibles. We pray. We keep our house clean. We work hard. We go to church. We train our children. We evangelize. We read theology. We refine our theology. We watch pastors on the internet. We tithe. We prepare sermons. We become living, breathing examples of Christian discipline. But we don’t do it for God. Often the reason we are disciplined is so people will notice how amazing we are. We are just flexing for the cameras.