Galatians 6:14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
In 1991 after breaking Lou Brock’s Major League Baseball (MLB) record by stealing his 937th base, Oakland Athletics’ Ricky Henderson addressed both Brock and the crowd by saying: “Lou Brock was a great base stealer, but today I am the greatest of all time”. Former World Cup Alpine Skier Alberto Tomba is regarded as one of the greatest technical skiers (slalom and giant slalom) of all time. With 3 Olympic Golds, 2 World Championships, and 9 World Cup Season titles, the Italian backed it up. After an impressive performance, Tomba said: “I really lack the words to compliment myself today”.
Finding overly confident (arrogant) quotes from professional athletes is not a difficult task. Many such athletes do not lack confidence, probably because most have experienced success in sports since childhood. Unfortunately, such quotes take away from their performances rather than enhancing them.
King Solomon understood this concept as evidenced by his proverb: “Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips” (Proverbs 27:2). Boasting, bragging about your own accomplishments doesn’t enhance your performances, it diminishes it.
Similarly, the Apostle Paul addresses this concept in his letter to the Galatians. “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world”. (Galatians 6:14). Paul had many reasons to boast, or as he said: “reasons to put confidence in the flesh” (Philippians 3:4). In his letter to the Philippian church, we read that he was a Jew circumcised on the eighth day, he was of the tribe of Benjamin, he was a trained Pharisee highly regarded because he had persecuted the Christians with great religious zeal; and according to the law he had been faultless (Philippians 3:4-6).
After Paul’s conversion something drastically changed in his life. In his letter to the church in Philippi he said: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:21). What is it? What caused this drastic change? Paul would tell you that it was the cross.
John R.W Stott said: “Before we can begin to see the cross as something done for us, we have to see it as something done by us.” Like the Apostle Paul, Stott recognized that the power of the cross is found when we recognize our own sin. As long as we go through life feeling we deserve something, feeling that we are good enough for something, such as making it to heaven and living an eternity with a perfect God, then we cannot understand the cross. The power of the cross is that it really doesn’t involve us. Christ died on the cross to bridge the gap between a perfect God and us as sinners. When he died on the cross, he took on all the sins of the world including yours and mine. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16). As an athlete believer, if you boast in anything, make sure you boast in the cross.