Tuesday, February 14, 2023

Pitching Well to Save God's Reputation

Suggested Reading: Exodus 32:1-14

In the movie Little Big League, a twelve year old boy gets the chance to manage a major league baseball team. One of the players, a pitcher, doesn't like the idea of playing for a twelve year old and threatens his young manager with playing very poorly if he doesn't get traded off the team. The boy tells him that he will not be traded and reminds the pitcher that, when his contract is up, no one will want a pitcher who didn't pitch well. Suddenly, for the sake of his own reputation and in order to be valuable enough for someone else to sign him, he pitches extremely well. The twelve year old manager just had to remind the pitcher that his own reputation was at stake.

A similar dynamic exists at times throughout scripture with God being reminded his reputation is at stake. Perhaps the first time we see it blatantly is with Moses. God has just given Moses the law and before Moses comes down from the mountain the Israelites create a golden calf and begin worshiping it with pagan rituals. God, in his anger warns Moses that he is going to destroy the rebellious, idolatrous Israelites and start over with Moses.  But Moses tried to pacify the Lord his God. “O  Lord!” he said. “Why are you so angry with your own people whom you brought from the land of Egypt with such great power and such a strong hand? Why let the Egyptians say, ‘Their God rescued them with the evil intention of slaughtering them in the mountains and wiping them from the face of the earth’? Turn away from your fierce anger. Change your mind about this terrible disaster you have threatened against your people!" (Exodus 32:11-12, NLT). With the fate of Israel at stake, Moses reminds God that his reputation was also at stake.

Too often we lose sight of what is most important: that God is glorified so that the world is drawn to the Savior. We ask God to provide for us because we need something, because it is good for us. We ask God to move in a person's life because they need it. Those reasons are well and good. But what about the times when we don't deserve to have God intervene in our lives? What happens when the person we are praying for is openly rebellious against God? When we have no ground to stand on, we need to shift our focus back to where it always belonged in the first place: on bringing God glory. When we have failed, or are on the verge of failing, when doing so would be detrimental to God's glory, when it would be "bad" for God's reputation, when we finally realize how poorly we ourselves have handled God's reputation, we can pray for God to move for the sake of God's reputation alone.

We may not deserve for God to use us, we may not deserve for God to move in our lives, but God always deserves to be glorified. When we can shift our focus back to that truth, it should affect both our behavior and our prayers.

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