by: Shannon Foote
Many young people have received lectures from their parents about earning privileges? They might say something like, “When you show some responsibility, you might be allowed certain opportunities.” These privileges would be made permissible after we had proven ourselves. Perhaps it could be as simple as going to an event or to a friend’s house, or something more significant like using the car. I would like to show you from the Bible how God gives this same opportunity to those who are His children. Accepting Christ as Saviour is free and is available to everyone, but God’s blessings are not free, though they are readily available.
A few years ago there was a young man who played for LSU who made more than his fair share of headlines both on and off the football field. I would like to take a moment to refresh our memories about Mr. Mathieu’s story, and explore the idea of learning from his experience. On Friday, August 10, 2012, LSU Coach Les Miles made the announcement of the dismissal of LSU football star Tyrann Mathieu. Mathieu was a college sensation who was nicknamed “The Honey Badger” during the Tigers 13-0 run to the BCS championship game in the 2011-2012 season. He regularly made big plays on defense, including two fumble returns for touchdowns, and had two punt returns for touchdowns late in the season. But the 5-feet-9, 175-pound Mathieu also ran afoul of a drug issue with two teammates last season. Mathieu, running back Spencer Ware and cornerback Tharold Simon were suspended for the Auburn game after testing positive for synthetic marijuana. Mathieu, who would have been a junior this season, was likely destined to skip his senior season and apply to the NFL draft in April 2013. In two seasons, the New Orleans native and St. Augustine alum played in 26 games and recorded 133 tackles with 16 for loss and four interceptions. He holds the LSU career record for forced fumbles with 11 and is third in recoveries with eight. He also averaged 15.6 yards on 27 punt returns. He paired with Morris Claiborne to become the first teammates named All American at cornerback by the Associated Press. The legend of the honey badger grew throughout the year and climaxed when he electrified Tiger Stadium with a 92-yard, game-changing punt return for a touchdown to help beat Arkansas, while playing safety for the first time. The next week, he scored on a 62-yard punt return and set up another touchdown with a 47-yarder as LSU rallied past Georgia. He was SEC Defensive Player of the Year and captured the “Chuck Bednarik Award” as the top defensive player in the nation. He finished fifth in the Heisman balloting and garnered 34 first-place votes. Now his options are more limited. He would have to sit out if he transfers to a Football Bowl Subdivision (1-A) team, but could play immediately if he is accepted as a transfer at a Football Championship Subdivision (1-AA) school or lower. (Edited excerpt of Jim Kleinpeter’s report for the Times Picayune)
Regardless of Tyrann’s potential or his ability to make contributions to the team, he was given exactly what his actions had warranted. During the football season he was rewarded for his performance on the field, and during the off-season he learned that there is also a negative side to that very same principle. In Proverbs 3, God breaks down His benefits for us. We are allowed the privilege of deciding what we want out of our lives, and He tells us exactly how we can earn those things. Serving God is not mysterious or complicated; it’s laid out like a formula with a guaranteed outcome. Our heavenly Father keeps this very simple for us. It is cause and effect; your reward or punishment depends on your desires, motives, and actions.
Too often, it seems that young people who have the privilege of being raised in godly homes will convince themselves that people who are without God and are free to make their own choices have an easier life than they do. The Devil enjoys being able to bring a child of God to this discouraged point in their lives. I think of it this way, before we accept Christ as our Saviour, we are like His neighbor’s child. (John 1:12; 8:44) God still loves us, and He would do all He could to keep us from harm. God, as our neighbor, would be willing to give us a ride if we needed one, or maybe, feed us if we were hungry, or buy us a new pair of shoes, but He would not 100% be responsible for our every need. Our parents set the rules for the house and make sure that we go to school and the doctor; they ensure that we brush our teeth and eat right. Sadly, those who have been blessed to become God’s children are filled with envy when He gives that neighbor’s child $20 for something like cutting the grass for Him. We, as His children, have done this time after time and never received $20 for doing that; so, we convince ourselves that God is not being fair to us. We skip right past the duty we have as a child of God to be obedient and submissive. (1 Corinthians 7:23; Ephesians 1:5) What we fail to realize is that God took on complete responsibility for us when He became our Father, and now we have an obligation to serve Him. He meets our every need, (Philippians 4:19) and tells us in His Word exactly what to do to receive the blessings we desire from Him. (Proverbs 3:1-12) The real problem is we want what we cannot have, and that is to live according to the flesh and not the Spirit without consequence!
Remember, there are just rewards for everything we do in this life. We will all enjoy and suffer some of that justice in this life. Let’s decide to learn from the achievements and failures of Tyrann Mathieu, and realize that we will not escape or circumvent this biblical principle. Galatians 6:7, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
Grace Baptist Church