On Tuesday, George Steinbrenner passed away from a heart attack at 80 years of age. There aren’t too many owners of sports franchises which have much name recognition among the general public. But, “Big Steins” (his self-proclaimed nickname on the show Seinfeld) was certainly one of them. He was hated by many baseball fans as the owner of the “Evil Empire” that is the New York Yankees. Although I really don’t see how they are more evil than the Red Sox in my understandably biased opinion because both teams pillage the smaller market teams’ players!
Regardless, Steinbrenner was known for a lot of things. He was known for firing and rehiring both coaches and secretaries, on a number of occasions. He was also known for his generosity in paying for kids’ educations and building wings on hospitals.
I “knew” (this is getting pretty loose with the language) him personally from the brief sightings I had at Morrison’s Cafeteria and the Tampa Bay Yacht and County Club.
After his death, one of my friends posted this quote attributed to him: “I’ll put my good acts against those of anybody in the country. Anybody.”
I don’t know why “Big Steins” felt compelled to say that, but when most people say something like that it is to try to justify themselves as “good” before others. And “Big Steins,” humanly speaking had a good point. He did a lot of good things, and probably many more that we’ll never know of. He would definitely look good before me.
But obviously I’m not the standard of righteousness; Jesus is. Despite all of his money, all of his short temperedness, what really kept him from the seeing the gospel clearly was his damnable good deeds. Our good deeds keep us from Jesus just as much as our bad ones do, as the parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector (Luke 18:10) reminds us.
Our temptation is always to compare ourselves with others and find them wanting. Instead it seems more fitting to the gospel to have this quote attributed to us: “I’ll put Jesus’ good acts on my behalf before anybody in the country. Anybody.” If we believe this, we’ll not compare ourselves in pride or resentfulness to others. We won’t even feel the need to. We’ll be able to rest, but also walk confidently in the good acts Jesus has already prepared for us (Eph 2:10).