At this time of year every year, the Baseball Writer’s Association releases the names of those lucky few who will go into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY later this year. Something historic happened yesterday. In the history of voting for potential Hall of Famers, no one has ever been a unanimous selection. That all changed yesterday. Former Yankees closer, Mariano Rivera became the first baseball player to receive an unanimous selection into the Hall of Fame. Since the story broke yesterday, many baseball people have written about it and discussed it at length. While there are some that are congratulating Rivera on the historic feat, many others are writing and talking about their disgust with the vote. To be clear, no one is doubting the Mariano Rivera deserves to be in the Hall of Fame. As someone who got to watch his entire career, I can attest to his deserving of the honor of being inducted to the Hall of Fame. The issue people have is that he is the first. Their argument is, if people like Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Ernie Banks, Jackie Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Nolan Ryan, Greg Maddux, and other truly great players didn’t get 100% of the vote, how can anyone get 100% of the vote? I will say that I personally see some merit to the argument. However, I think there is a larger point that needs to be made. The larger point is this, just because other deserving people didn’t get 100% of the vote, doesn’t mean that no one should get 100% of the vote. If anything, maybe the baseball writers who have a vote are finally waking up to their own lunacy in the past. In previous years, someone would intentionally leave someone’s name off their ballot, just to make sure that no one received 100% of the vote. Finally, it appears that the writers are willing to do the right thing, because it’s the right thing to do. Do I believe we will see a lot of people get 100% of the vote? Honestly, no I don’t because the criteria for being a Hall of Fame is subjective at best. That is a whole other argument, for another time. Why does this matter? It matters, because for the first time, the writers are not letting the past dictate what they do in the present.
I think this is one of Satan’s greatest strategies to paralyze or cripple the growth and effectiveness of a believer. Satan loves to remind us of our past, to whisper those allegations of unworthiness because of sins long since forgiven by the grace of God. There are many believers who sit idly by on the sidelines not because they don’t have something to contribute to the advancement of the Gospel. Rather, they sit on the sidelines because they believe what Satan says about their past. If that is you, I want to hopefully offer you some encouragement. The apostle Paul wrote these words in Philippians 3, “Brothers, I do not count myself to have attained, but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal to the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13-14, bold-mine for emphasis). Paul knew he wasn’t perfect. A casual reading of Romans 7 will show you that Paul was very aware that he still had a sin nature, and that he battled his sin nature on a daily basis. His point was, we can’t neglect to serve God in the present, because of our past. By His grace, the moment God saved us all of our sins were forgiven because they had been paid for by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross. Because of this glorious forgiveness, Paul would write in Romans 8, “There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.” By His blood, we have been declared not guilty. So don’t allow your past to keep you in chains. Realize that you have been saved by grace for a purpose. You have a calling on your life that God has equipped you for. So drop the chains of the past that are hindering you, and live in the grace that saved you, marching on to fulfill the calling of glorifying God by using what He has given you to point others to Him.