The NBA playoffs are moving right along, and a couple of teams are already heading home after being swept 4-0. This morning I want to shine a light on one of those losing teams – the Memphis Grizzlies. They may not have been a match for the Spurs in this series, but when you consider their season, it’s unbelievable that they even made the playoffs. 

They struggled with the health of two key players, Mike Conley and Marc Gasol, and set an NBA record for putting 28 players on their roster – mainly due to injury after injury.

On Sunday their head coach, David Joerger, gave a tear-filled and heartfelt press conference describing their challenging year, but also inferring how proud he was of his team: “They could’ve quit. They could’ve not made the playoffs. And every day they came out and they fought like crazy.”

Although this says a lot about the team’s character and leadership of their coach, what makes the story even more impressive is the fact that many of their players have been known as a bunch of misfits, cast-offs, troublemakers, and “head cases” throughout their careers.

Fans were baffled that one NBA roster could consist of names like Matt Barnes, Chris Anderson, Lance Stephenson, and P.J. Hairston. At first glance you wouldn’t think this was a team with “high character.” However, these guys overachieved and played hard, and Coach Joerger had this to say: “I’d do anything for those guys. I’ve embraced every guy who came here no matter what their history was. I cared about them.”

Instead of throwing in the towel and thinking a bunch of players with the backgrounds and reputations they brought to Memphis would be impossible to coach, he embraced them and truly cared about them as individuals.

That mentality is encouraging to me, and I hope it is to you as well. We’ve all made mistakes and have a track record of some kind, but thankfully Jesus doesn’t give up on us and never writes us off because of our past. He still embraces us, cares about us, and even empowers us to do work for His kingdom. If Jesus shows us this incredible kind of grace and acceptance, we should be challenged to do the same for others.

The Bible says in Romans 15:5-6, “May God, who gives this patience and encouragement, help you live in complete harmony with each other, as is fitting for followers of Christ Jesus. Then all of you can join together with one voice, giving praise and glory to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.”

Today let’s be mindful to never give up on people, regardless of how bad their past may be, and believe the power that transforms us can also transform them.

Let’s be inspired to live with an attitude like Coach Joerger: “I’ve embraced every guy who came here no matter what their history was. I cared about them.” I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, thank you for accepting me into Your family, despite my past and my history of disobedience. Thank you for the grace and mercy You show me through Jesus. Please help me to have that same approach as I love and care about others. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.