Several years ago, I was at a youth baseball tournament for some of the best travel teams in the country. The competition was intense, the players were good, and winning was quite an accomplishment. One team took some heat for bringing in players specifically to pitch in one game; after the game, I suppose they became free agents again or something.

It amazed me to see what folks would do to win a youth baseball game.

Not only that, but I wondered how good could a coach possibly feel if his strategy was simply to bring in better players? Don’t get me wrong. I know, of course, that better players are always a coach’s dream, but simply signing a free agent is somewhat of a shortcut to actually developing players to be better.

Proverbs 13:11 speaks to a principle that applies on and off the field–“Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it.”

Wealth, whether of the literal or baseball variety, gained by shortcuts eventually leaves a person with less to show in the long run. Less respect, less appreciation, less reward from people and the Lord.

Those who plod along faithfully, who refuse the shortcuts of taking advantage of others or of simply getting better players…their success is truly to be appreciated and celebrated.

Stay faithful. Keep going. Make the most of what you have and who you’re around. Strive for success in God’s eyes. That’s the path that pleases him.

Lord Jesus, keep me from shortcuts. Grow my character to the point where I don’t even consider them. Amen.