In the English Premier League, and throughout world football, finances have become an increasing problem. “Financial Fair Play” has become the buzz phrase to describe the desperate need for fiscal accountability among football clubs. The amounts of money being paid to and for players has skyrocketed to unbelievable levels, prompting financial practices that have brought some of the world’s most storied clubs to their knees. Two years ago, one of the world’s greatest sporting clubs, Liverpool Football Club, was only days away from bankruptcy when it was rescued by Fenway Sports Group. Earlier this year, the club Rangers from Glasgow, Scotland, was demoted to the lowest rung of Scottish football because of financial practices that were deemed to be “not in the best interests of the game.” In football, as in life, money and how we manage it can spill over in unexpected ways that can be both deeply destructive and deeply disturbing. These financial danger zones will no doubt impact many other clubs around the world before the values of accountability can fully engage.
So, then, what is the answer for those danger zones? We could look at several things that normal people have to reconcile all the time just to make it from paycheck to paycheck: We need to live within our means. We need to spend less than we take in. We need to understand the danger that occurs when our financial eyes are bigger than our stomachs.
That is all well and good, but this requires something more elemental than just the decision-making part of the equation. We also must have a heart adjustment so that we see money (and the things it buys) in the proper perspective—and the key to that is contentment. Paul wrote to Timothy:
Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But you, O man of God, flee these things and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, gentleness (1 Timothy 6:6-11).
His point is a simple one. What we pursue is what will define us in life. The pursuit of money and the things it buys can never, by themselves, bring us satisfaction, peace, happiness, or, most of all, contentment. Where does it come from? Not from the things we can obtain, but from pursuing a relationship with the God who gave Himself for us. As we see in Hebrews:
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (13:5).
Only as we pursue a deepening relationship with God will we be able to know the true contentment that He desires for us to have.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain