I love baseball. I enjoy taking the family to the ballpark and cheering for the Indians while making a mess of peanut shells at my seat and watching America’s pastime on display. It is a beautiful gift from God. Certainly, it is not nearly as meaningful as the gift of family, gifts of the Spirit, or salvation in Christ, but it is nonetheless something God has given.
As I think about how followers of Christ should consider things like sports, food, cars, and birthday parties, I find that it is not enough to simply think, “As long as I don’t make this an idol, I’m not doing anything wrong.” There is a bit more to it. We should examine what Scripture says about the nature of God’s gifts, and see them through that biblical lens.
First Timothy 6:17 reminds us, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (ESV). God gives us so many things to enjoy. They are purposed for our enjoyment, but despite this great purpose they are still uncertain. Your ability to enjoy baseball, pizza, a sizeable paycheck, a Netflix subscription, or a new computer is uncertain from one day to the next. Because of their uncertainty, those gifts do not deserve one iota of your hope—hope for a satisfied and fulfilling life. So, the value of enjoying gifts only goes so far as you are consistently putting your hope in our unchanging God.
Another important reminder comes from 2 Peter 1:3, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence.” God is perfectly sufficient in supplying us with all we need for life. And that life includes a calling to godliness, a calling to glorify Him in all things. So, while we have thousands of earthly gifts, Jesus is the ultimate Gift. He generously gives us stuff, but that stuff is not the end of our calling, He is! And as we know Him more and more, His gifts find their proper place in our lives, not as idols, but instead as a brief, ever-changing manifestation of His unchanging grace. Indeed, as an old hymn declares, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus,/Look full in His wonderful face,/And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,/In the light of His glory and grace.”