I like sports. I really like sports. I refuse to use the word love to describe my affection for athletics. I reserve that word for the relationship I enjoy with my Creator, my Savior, His Word, my wife, my boys, my family—both physical and spiritual, and banana pudding. Yes, I do enjoy banana pudding so much that love is the proper word to describe my affinity for this delectable treat.
Growing up I played anything that allowed me to hit, throw, or catch a ball. From the comfort of my couch, I critique and make the right calls that the millionaire coaches failed to make and that the multi-million dollar athletes failed to execute. Collegiate athletes are considered amateurs and the competition at this level is more intriguing to me, especially at the lower levels where participants are playing for the love they have for their game of choice. By the way, my alma mater, Freed-Hardeman University, recently brought home the women’s NAIA national basketball championship. Go Lady Lions!
Listening to coaches give their postgame interviews can sometimes be comedic as you try to predict the worn-out clichés they will use in an effort to avoid directly answering the question posed to them. “I have to watch the film”, “we have to eliminate turnovers”, “we need to play better defense”, and other tired phrases are usually quickly forgotten. However, I recall a remark that I heard that I want to share in this article and make a spiritual application. I honestly cannot recall who said it and in what context. It may have been a coach or player. It may have been a professional, college, or middle schooler. The identity of who said the words is not important, but they carry great import to those who consider them:
“Our best has to get better!”
In context, the player, coach, or team may have given their best effort, but apparently it was not enough to produce a victory. So, the conclusion was that they needed to improve in order to ensure the greater likelihood of victory in the future.
Now, let’s bring this into the spiritual realm. Have you committed a sin that you have committed many times before and attempted to console yourself by saying, whether verbally or only inwardly: “I’m doing the best I can.” Maybe you spoke these words to another who was trying to help you mature and was encouraging you to grow spiritually. “I’m doing the best I can” was offered to keep from having to seriously consider areas of weakness they saw in your life. “I’m doing the best I can” was spoken to blunt the loving rebuke an Elder gave or the words were used to dismiss the thrust of the sword of the Spirit offered by a faithful Gospel preacher.
While I dare not attempt to judge unfairly your motives or your spiritual condition, I feel confident in asserting your best can get better. Paul expressed this mindset in Philippians 3:7-14, with verse 14 summarizing: “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” To this same group of Christians, the apostle wrote: “It is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment” (Philippians 1:9). The idea behind abound more and more is to overflow to the point of abundance. No matter if they had done the best they thought they could do in showing love, Paul exhorts their best could be better. The same can be said for our love, too. Remember what followers of Christ are to exhibit; the list given in Galatians 5:22-23 reads: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Are you doing your best in demonstrating these qualities? Can your best get better?
We often fail to read the last part of verse 23. I did not include it above, but it reads like this: “Against such things there is no law.” This phrase suggests there is no limit and God has placed no restriction on the measure of these attributes in our lives. Are you doing your best to love everyone including the folks who are difficult to love? Are you as patient as you can be in every situation? Are you faithful in all things? You might retort: “I’m doing my best!” I am asking you: can your best be better?
I am not advocating a works based salvation, nor am I asserting living sinless is possible. Perfection is not obtainable, but progression is feasible and the goal of growing to be more and more like Jesus is something every Christian should give their very best effort. Are you doing your best? Can your best be better?