9 “As Jesus went on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax collector’s booth. ‘Follow me,’ He told him, and Matthew got up and followed Him.”
Matthew 9:9 (NIV)
Each and every culture has parts that are good and also parts that are not so good. Sport culture is no different. You see it splattered all over the news, as athletes at all levels encounter tough choices. There are sex scandals at universities, crazy lifestyles among pro athletes.
Power, fame and pride come easily when the spotlight is on us. Matthew might not have been a pro athlete whose face was all over ESPN, but he was a high roller of his time. A wealthy tax collector, he was not necessarily well-liked among the Jews, who probably considered him a sellout as he regularly over-collected their taxes for his own benefit. What likely started as a well-paying job turned into an opportunity for even more as power and greed got the best of him. I can assure you he was living well, but very much alone.
Look at Matthew’s response to his encounter with Jesus in today’s Scripture. Matthew considered Jesus worth leaving his wealth, greed, power -- his entire life -- for. That is who Jesus is.
Athlete, you can say “no” to any temptation because you have a God who has better for you. Matthew didn’t follow Jesus to be a better person, he did it to follow the One True God. God’s Word tells us that light and darkness can’t commune in the same room. In the same way, we can’t continue to choose sin and still be in fellowship with God. Matthew couldn’t have stayed where he was and followed Jesus at the same time.
Athlete, when you know Jesus, you are no longer a slave to sin and you are given the same invitation as Matthew -- the invitation to follow Christ. Not just to follow him on the day you believe, but to follow Him every day after, as well.
Reflect: What do you need to drop to truly follow Jesus?
Challenge: Read 1 John 1:5-2:6