Wednesday, August 19, 2009

People of Second Chances

This week, a news story really spoke to me and my relationship to God. As a sports fan, I watch my fair share of SportsCenter and other sports-related shows. I also admire athletes who are able to live out their faith in Christ in the national forefront and rise above some of the selfishness, greed, drug-induced cheating, and other criminal behavior that many professional athletes are known for. But a story on SportsCenter caught my attention.

As Michael Vick has served his time for operating a brutal dog-fighting ring, the former record-setting NFL quarterback is now finding his way back to society and to football. And who is the person in his corner leading this effort? Former Super Bowl Champion head coach and Christian author Tony Dungy has been in Vick's corner as a mentor and life coach for several months now. But the one who is spearheading the effort to help Vick get back on his feet is possibly the most unlikely person in the NFL--another starting quarterback who happens to be a dog lover himself.

Eagle's quarterback Donovan McNabb, who owns two American Bulldogs and a Belgian Malinois, according to an article at, began lobbying his organization weeks ago to bring Vick to Philadelphia saying it was a good move for the team. But why would a starting quarterback bring such a spectacular athlete with such a shady past to his own team and put himself in a position to potentially lose his job? According to McNabb in the interview, "I believe in second chances and I have strong faith in God that he forgives our sins...Yes, it was a bad thing and a malicious act, but somewhere in your heart, you have to have forgiveness."

Centuries ago, a man named Saul who had been a murderer of the followers of Christ , has an encounter with Christ and gives his life to the Lord. After his conversion, early Christians are wary of his change of heart and are more than reluctant to welcome him into the fold. But a man named Barnabas testifies to the truth of Saul's change and allows the other believers to open their hearts to him.

So what about us? Are you and I like Michael Vick and Saul who have messed up and just need a break? Or are we like McNabb and Barnabas who are in a position to help someone who needs a second chance? If we are in one of these situations to offer help to someone who has made a mistake, there are three things we need to remember.

1) Dont try to play God. I Samuel 16:7 says that man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart. Only God knows the true intentions of the heart of someone who is trying to turn their life around. 2) Offer forgiveness, but offer help as well. Forgiving someone in their heart for wrong doing is only half of what we are called to do. True forgiveness comes when we put actions to our words by reaching out and helping those who need it. 3) Leave the results to God. Donovan McNabb doesn't know exactly how Michael Vick will handle his return to life in the spotlight and his NFL paycheck. Will he buckle under the pressure and go back to his old ways or will he rise above the pressure and hype and keep his life on track? McNabb doesn't know the answer to this, but he is evidently willing to trust God with the results.

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