If you follow basketball at all, I’m sure you’re aware of the infamy that comes with the name “Ron Artest.” In 2004, he made headlines for the “Malice at the Palace.” After taking part in an on-court fight, Artest turned his attention to some fans and went into the stands to fight them, too. That led to a suspension that lasted through the rest of the season. Although it’s been a few years, no one has forgotten his actions that night. However, just last week he was given the NBA’s J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship award. Yes, the same guy who once beat up fans is now the league’s “Citizen of the Year.” He received the award primarily for his work in raising awareness (and $650,000 worth of funds) for mental illness.
So, the NBA’s bad boy is now the good guy, right? Not hardly. He is still known for dirty play, as evidenced by his actions in last night’s game. With less than thirty seconds left and his team down by eleven points, Artest took his frustration out on Dallas player JJ Barea by “clotheslining” Barea, earning him an ejection and a probable suspension for the next game. So, how do you go from earning the citizenship award one week to getting ejected from a game the next? It’s quite simple, actually. Most of us Christians are guilty of the same from time to time.
You see, Artest won the award based on his financial donations off the court. How are we similar to this? We have all been guilty (at one point or another) of doing the things to get ourselves noticed, whether it’s posting the “holier-than-thou” Facebook status, putting on our “church faces” to convince our brethren that everything is fine, or even doing the right thing with the wrong attitude. We know how to get the praise of men, and sometimes we focus on that instead of concerning ourselves with just doing the right thing. Whether it’s Ron Artest or Brother Smith at the congregation down the street, there’s still great value in doing good things, but if you aren’t truly changed and you’re only concerned with doing some good things, what’s the point? God calls us to live lives that are truly different.
Every aspect of our lives should be conformed to His will, not just the public parts that others will see. In the end, it doesn’t matter how much praise is heaped on each person. What matters is how much we have submitted ourselves to God’s will in every aspect of our lives.