The second week of Wimbledon is here! I’ve (David) always loved watching the superstars on the Center Court. During the Wimbledon coverage, tennis lovers will inevitably be treated to flashback footage of past stars like Rod Laver or Billy Jean King. And you quickly notice that they are playing with wooden tennis rackets! Now, the difference between wood and the composite materials used in rackets today is night and day. The old wooden rackets are obsolete. That’s not to say they’re bad. In fact, the grip might feel ‘just right’ in your hand. It’s just that you can’t win with a wooden racket today! It’s just not an effective racket for winning.

And it got me thinking. What ineffective “wooden rackets” am I tempted to win with in my Christian life?

  • Reading my Bible ...without having the mindset of “meeting with God”

  • Meeting with accountability brothers ...without being transparent

  • Serving God ...without a prayerful dependence on God

  • Leading my wife...without first submitting to God

  • Disciplining my kids...without ever sharing stories of my own failures and weaknesses with them

  • Confessing my sin...without truly entrusting the guilt and shame into God’s hands

Anytime I attempt to attain a spiritual goal by striving in the flesh, I’m picking up a wooden racket. And it never brings me to the winning destination I want. The Apostle Paul said it this way: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh (Gal 3:3)?”

The book of Hebrews was written to some Jewish Christians who were reaching for the ole familiar wooden racket. Their “wooden racket” was a reliance on the Law and the Sacrificial system to stay right with God. But the writer calls out to them: “Those things had their time and good purpose but they are obsolete now. They are NOT effective for salvation and sanctification now that Jesus, the BETTER One, has come (Heb 7:22; 8:6,13). “God had provided something better for us” (Heb 11:40). The ‘something better’ is the fullness of salvation in Christ and the Holy Spirit’s empowerment to live a God- pleasing life.

As we continue through this summer tennis season (with an eye on the U.S. Open in September 😃), let’s say farewell to our old, familiar wooden rackets and continually rely on Jesus who is BETTER on every point.

“glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh” (Phil 3:3b).