There are nine spots in the batting order, nine positions on the field, nine innings in the game. Some would say this is evidence of God’s perfection imprinted in the game, but I digress. What it does speak to is the fact that there is a limit on the number of players who can play and the amount of playing time available. Inevitably, on every team, there are great players, good players, and those who will likely not play much, if at all.

The great players are worshiped, the good players are appreciated…but what about the guys who don’t play? Those whose talent is obviously not equal to the others?

I believe these are baseball’s equivalent to those spoken of in Proverbs 14:21–“He who despises his neighbor sins, but happy is he who is gracious to the poor” (NASB).

Whether you and I like it or not, we have a responsibility to the players who are less talented and do not play. In the context of Proverbs 14, they are our “neighbors,” and by despising or ignoring them, we sin. By treating them as less than human because of their lack of talent, we sin.

On the other hand, those who are gracious and loving toward those with lesser talent find themselves “happy” and blessed by God. The player who never plays is still a person loved by Jesus, a person who is fully human, a person in need of and deserving dignified treatment and respect from parents, coaches, and teammates. I believe their “poor” talent makes Proverbs 14:21 particularly applicable.

So, coach, teammate…evaluate your attitude toward and treatment of the players who aren’t worshiped or appreciated. Do you despise them or take a gracious approach? Sin or blessing. Your choice.

A prayer for those who relate:

Lord Jesus, thank you for not despising me in spite of my poor status as a broken sinner. Enable me to extend your grace to those who are neither worshiped nor appreciated. Live through me in my coaching, playing, and/or parenting. Amen.