Links Daily Devotional

Proud of You

I have great confidence in you; I take great pride in you. I am greatly encouraged; in all our troubles my joy knows no bounds. (2 Corinthians 7:4, NIV)

In addition to playing this game we love, I have had opportunity over the past seven years to coach it as well, and many of you who share the same privilege have written through the years to swap stories and ideas and blessings.

Coaching high school golf requires a unique combination of skills. Even if you don’t feel competent to teach elements of the swing, you can learn enough about rules and etiquette and course management to pass these along to your players. Then there are the crossover components of discipline, sportsmanship, and competitiveness that must be applied specifically to golf. Add to that the self-management that must be taught to players who are spread over a playing field so wide that a coach cannot see all of it at once.

The most rewarding part, however, is the derived from the most meaningful—and this is especially true for coaches who want to pass on the truths of Scripture to their players. It is building into the character of these young athletes. This is meaningful work, and it is rewarding, because if an understanding of Christ as the source of our righteousness takes root in the heart of a player, you will share that joy with him or her for eternity!

To this end, encouragement plays a key role in the development of both athletic skills and character strengths.

In a way this runs counter to our recognition of ourselves as sinners. Even in Christ, we go on making mistakes.

But I am intrigued by Paul’s words in his second letter to the church at Corinth, in southern Greece. Writing to them earlier, he brought admonishment in much of his instruction. In this second letter, though, the apostle’s tone was often different, because he had seen growth in those in his care. He went even so far as to say he was proud of them.

Balance is certainly important in our view of who we are and of those around us. Pride is frequently an enemy, puffing us up before others and even—in our daft minds—before God. So we cringe in taking pride in our accomplishments, and we hesitate to send too much praise in another’s direction, lest we be guilty of applying techniques of “self-esteem” over and above humbling a friend in God’s eyes.

But Paul’s words apply the measure of balance we need to encourage others. We can be proud of their growth in Spiritual application (capital S intended), and we can go right ahead and tell them so.

Place your confidence in those who are growing in Christ—not because they have some superior measure of faith or have done something exceptionally bold for Jesus—but because their faith or their boldness or their service or their generosity are evidence of this: they love God and are doing all they can to honor him. There’s never shame in that! As a matter of fact, it’s quite worthy of praise!

Jeff Hopper
October 21, 2013
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