Monday, June 20, 2011

Common Grace Bestowed Upon Bernard Hopkins

John Murray on Common Grace:
"The word 'common' in the title of the topic is not used in the sense that each particular favour is given to all without discrimination or distinction but rather in the sense that favours of varying kinds and degrees are bestowed upon this sin-cursed world, favours real in their character as expressions of the divine goodness but which are not in themselves and of themselves saving in their nature and effect. So the term 'common grace' should rather be defined as every favour of whatever kind or degree, falling short of salvation, which this undeserving and sin-cursed world enjoys at the hand of God."

While Bernard Hopkins was punishing the then undefeated Felix Trinidad round after round, Larry Merchant called him a "geriatric wonder". That was 10 years ago when Hopkins was only 36 years old. I think it was too early for Merchant to say that. Now that a decade had elapsed, calling him as the "geriatric wonder" is perfectly justified. Last month, The Executioner defeated a young and dangerous champion namely Jean Pascal to win the WBC light heavyweight title and eclipse the record of George Foreman as the oldest boxer ever to win a world title.

Foreman was 45 years old when he snatched Michael Moorer's WBA and IBF heavyweight titles; Hopkins is 46. And unlike Foreman who won by the common grace of a single providential punch (the world calls it a "lucky punch"), Hopkins displayed a mastery of the "sweet science" in-between the sound of the opening and closing bells.

The HBO ringside commentator was a recipient of common grace himself with this brilliant remark:
"23 years in professional boxing, Bernard Hopkins' whole career is a tribute to the advantages of being made not born. Throughout his career, his opposite number was the great Roy Jones. He was never brought into the sport with the kinds of gifts that Jones enjoyed. He didn't have all that physical talent. We saw that when first they met in 1993. Bernard had to learn every detail. He had to master the craft and he did it like no one else in his generation. We saw that when he fought Jones again last year and dominated him just as completely as Jones had dominated him in '93. With what's made not born, you can last a long long time. Particularly, if you live a monastic life, if you don't drink, if you don't smoke, you eat the right things, you train as clearly and cleanly as you can-- everything about that defines Bernard Hopkins."
Hopkins' contemporary Roy Jones Jr. was a greater talent when both of them were in their prime. Jones fought Denis Lebedev on the same day Hopkins fought Pascal. I only saw the 10th and final round, but there is no doubt Jones is but a shadow of what he once was. He was brutally knocked-out by Lebedev. The other man on the other hand is still shining. Whatever he lacked in natural talents and skills, Hopkins filled in with discipline and hard work.

What we can glean from this pinch of common grace is the necessity of discipline and hard work in any area we are involved in. The bible encourages us to excel in our chose fields:

"Do you see a man skilled in his work?
He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men." (Proverbs 22:29)

Specifically applied to spirituality, Hopkins' investment of sweat and blood is earning for him rewards of temporal value like money and the belts. The Apostle Paul on the other hand exhorts us to train ourselves to be godly for it will yield rewards both in the present life and the life to come. (1 Tim.4:7-8)


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