By: Sheri Owen
MINNEAPOLIS — Look at them, those champion Virginia Cavaliers, inadequate no more. They can smile, see. They can dance. They can bounce on an elevated stage, in a supersized venue, during the most precious moment of the final night of the college basketball season.
Look at them, and say it again: those champion Virginia Cavaliers — laughing, pointing to the crowd, revving up the band, lifting the trophy they had to chase through desolation before they could corral it. Look at them, the elite-until-March program reviled in recent years for their NCAA tournament shortcomings, defying us again.
This was written in the Perspective Column of the Washington Post by Jerry Brewer right after the team won the National Championship. When I read this, my first thought is to all the naysayers of the past – “in your face”, we are #1, “we have the best team in the country”, “take that” and on and on. With my father as a UVA professor and a die hard Alum, I’ve been going to all the games (football and basketball) since high school, so this Championship win has been a long time coming. So, it seems easy to have an ego and say we are the best.
But as I was listening to the post game press conference with Coach Tony Bennett and players, something he said really stuck with me. Coach Bennett was answering a question from a reporter about feeling the lowest of lows last year – Does this win tonight make this special because you understand the depths and can appreciate the heights tonight? He said:
I hope that it’s a message for some people out there that there can be hope and joy and resiliency. I’m thankful for what happened. That’s why I did what I did at the end. When that horn went off, I just put my head down and said, Thank You. I’m humbled, Lord, because I don’t deserve to be in this spot, but You chose me to be here, and I’ll give thanks.
And I told our guys in the locker room, I said put your arms around each other, take a look at every guy in here, look at each other. Promise me you will remain humble and thankful for this. Don’t let this change you. It doesn’t have to. (Tony Bennett, 2019)
What an amazing message. Remain humble. Don’t let this change you. We know that Jesus died for our sins and our human faults. This was done to reestablish our relationship with God. But there’s an important step each of us must still take to access the mercy and grace that His death affords us.
That step is to practice humility. Scripture says, “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Paul says in Ephesians 4:2: “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”In Philippians 2:3 he says: “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”There are dozens more Bible verses about the virtue of being humble. And even Jesus Christ “humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8).
CS Lewis wrote: “A proud man is always looking down on things and people: and, of course, as long as you are looking down you cannot see something that is above you.”
Humble people don’t look down, they look up, and what they see of the vast love of God for his creation, conditions how they see everyone else. We can be proud of our basketball team because their coach is an excellent role model and is always looking up. We should too.