For the past two seasons, I have been pretty unhealthy, constantly trying to recover. My injuries, and then surgery, affected everything else in my game and in my life. Today, I feel better than I have in a really long time.
After playing five years in the NFL, I’m starting to understand how the league works and what I have to do to keep my career going strong and long. It’s not always about making the biggest play and signing the largest contract. It’s often about availability. If you look at the players who have been in the league for 12-14 years, they play with balance. This is something I know I need to become better at. I know what I have to do to get there, I just need to have the drive and discipline to do it. It’s about doing all the little things so that when hiccups come during camp, OTAs or in season, I’m ready.
Besides consistency and balance in my game, I’m also seeking what God has for me to learn spiritually this year. Two years ago, I felt like God was really placing the importance of purity on my heart and mind. That was before I met my wife, Cheyna, and I really wanted to make sure I didn’t get caught up in all the temptations that come with life in the NFL. This past year, I was determined to fix my eyes on God and be completely dependent on Him. I didn’t want to revert to manmade tactics and plans, but instead I tried to really focus on the Word of God, following what He says I should do.
After chasing purity and a dependence on God, I now feel like God is calling to me focus on the challenge of giving. When I look back on my career over the past five years, I have asked myself, “Have I really been stewarding my money well?” People may see me as a generous person, but I don’t want to look at people’s standards. I want to look at God’s standard. What does He deem important? This is a hard conversation to have.
In God’s Word, we see many examples of extravagant giving. To the tax collectors and thieves, Jesus told them to give back more than they took. To the rich man who wanted to enter the Kingdom of God, Jesus said he had to give away not some, but all that he had and follow Him. Jesus doesn’t want our “some,” He wants our “all.”
For the Christ-follower, it’s crucial for us to allow the Spirit of God to speak to us about what it is we are to do with what God’s given us. I know for me, it’s time to actually start listening and asking myself, “Is this what I want? Or is this what God wants me to do?” I’m seeking answers through study of His Word and prayer. I want to understand and mirror the heart of God by discovering how to be an extravagant giver.
The world is always going to give you an excuse. “You don’t have to do that.” “That’s enough.” “Are you really helping? Or are you enabling?” Let’s stop for a second and take a step back. What did Jesus do? Is this the perspective He wants us to have? Let’s see what He did and replicate that.
Recently, I read the story in the Bible about the woman who gave all she had — just a few coins — to the Church. When I think about this story, I see a clear invitation for us to give to the point that it hurts. If our giving doesn’t get uncomfortable or alter the way we live, it’s not life-changing.
Personally, I want my son to see that as far as our family is concerned, this money we have is not ours, it’s God’s. Are we going to give to a point where we are still 100% comfortable? Or are we going to live trusting God to provide for our needs? This is an opportunity for me to share God’s love in a big way and to experience God’s provision for myself on a whole new level. And as I pray for more opportunities to live in this manner, I see they just keep coming and coming.
What would it look like if we lived as the early Church did — sharing all they had for the advancement of the Kingdom? How can we live to serve others instead of clinging onto the possessions we have here on earth? This year, I want to live generously, with the heart of Christ.
— Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver
Jordan Matthews is a regular contributor to The Increase, providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out Jordan’s Increase profile: https://theincrease.com/author/jordan-matthews/
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