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Super Bowl LII set all kinds of records. The Eagles and Patriots combined for the most yards ever in an NFL playoff game. Nick Foles was the first quarterback ever to catch a touchdown in a Super Bowl. It was the first Super Bowl title for Philadelphia, a team which was the underdog in all three of its playoff games.
Nick Foles has to be the most famous backup quarterback in the world today. Forced into action when franchise quarterback Carson Wentz went down earlier in the season with a knee injury, he led his team to the world title and was named Super Bowl MVP. His coach, Doug Pederson, was coaching in high school nine years ago and led his team to the world title in only his second season in Philadelphia.
But for me, the most significant part of the game came during the awards ceremony. Coach Pederson said, “I can only give the praise to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ for giving me this opportunity.” Tight end Zach Ertz, who made the game-winning catch, then told the audience, “Glory to God first and foremost.” Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles followed Ertz to the microphone and said the same.
Foles describes himself on Twitter as a “believer in Jesus Christ, husband, father, son, brother.” Many of his teammates share his faith in Jesus and are willing to make their commitment public.
The issue of athletes glorifying God at the end of victories is an ongoing debate. Some see it as an imposition of personal faith on the public. Others ask whether the players would have praised God if they had lost.
To me, Coach Pederson and his players were simply following the biblical example: “Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory” (Psalm 115:1). Scripture teaches, “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise” (James 5:13). We are commanded to “continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, the fruit of lips that acknowledge his name” (Hebrews 13:15).
When are we to glorify God? “Continually.”
What matters most in life
The night before the Super Bowl, J. J. Watt was named Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year. Watt, who plays for the Houston Texans, raised more than $37 million to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.
The hurricane was not the first time Watt has used his platform for greater good. In 2010, while he was still in college, he began the Justin J. Watt Foundation to help underserved kids. His foundation has raised more than $3.4 million.
Do you remember who won the 2016 Super Bowl? (It was the Denver Broncos-I had to look it up.) However, every child and every hurricane victim helped by Watt’s benevolence will always remember his compassion.
What matters most in life is not the success we achieve but the way we use that success to glorify God and serve others.
We have only this day to do something that matters forever. A new study indicates that career NFL players may die earlier than football players who don’t play in the NFL. A man who won $1 million in the lottery died twenty-three days later of cancer.
Success is seldom synonymous with wealth. Nine movies have been nominated this year for the Academy Award for Best Picture; together they have made less money than Star Wars: The Last Jedi earned on its own.
“Blessed are the pure in heart”
God’s first measure of success is simple: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength” (Mark 12:30). To love God with all our “heart” is to love him with every dimension of our lives, every day of our lives.
That’s why we’re told to “trust in the Lord with all your heart” (Proverbs 3:5). It’s why we are taught to “keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (Proverbs 4:23). It’s why Jesus assured us, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
In his last sermon, A Slip of the Tongue, C. S. Lewis explained: “[God] claims all, because He is love and must bless. He cannot bless us unless He has us. When we try to keep within us an area that is our own, we try to keep an area of death. Therefore, in love, He claims all. There’s no bargaining with Him.”
“In Christ, I am already victorious”
The Eagles’ players and fans will never forget yesterday’s Super Bowl victory. But one moment into eternity, such temporal success will matter only to the degree that it glorified our eternal Father and served eternal souls.
That’s why it’s so important that we live every moment in the will and power of God. Only then can our lives have significance that transcends success. Only then can our Lord use us for his eternal glory and our eternal good.
Watchman Nee: “Outside of Christ, I am only a sinner, but in Christ, I am saved. Outside of Christ, I am empty; in Christ, I am full. Outside of Christ, I am weak; in Christ, I am strong. Outside of Christ, I cannot; in Christ, I am more than able. Outside of Christ, I have been defeated; in Christ, I am already victorious. How meaningful are the words, ‘In Christ.'”
Are you “in Christ” today?