Today, world is remembering, the greatest of all time Muhammad Ali.
In the ring Ali made the three minutes of each fight round electric as he became the only three-time lineal world heavyweight champion; winning titles in 1964, 1974, and 1978.
However, it was the minutes outside the ring that made Ali iconic.
In 1967, at the peak of his career Ali was stripped of his heavyweight title for his refusal to be conscripted into the U.S. military, citing his religious beliefs and opposition to American involvement in the Vietnam War.
Making his minutes count Ali, was victorious in the legal venture when in 1971 the Supreme Court in a landmark decision overturned his conviction.
For his courageous stance Ali, became an icon first for the counterculture generation. Then for all of America as people started to fully understand how this king of violence in the ring, was truly a prince of peace for the word.
In the 74 years that he lived Muhammad Ali spent nearly 38,894,400 minutes on this earth. Wherever those minutes were spent fighting in the ring, or fighting for social justice, or fighting Parkinson’s syndrome to light the Olympic flame at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.
Muhammad Ali: “The Champ”. The man who “floated like a butterfly but stung like a bee. The “greatest of all time”
Demonstrated to all of us how to make the minutes of our lives count.
Each day God has graced us with 1440 minutes, and in the spirit of Colossians 4:5 those of us who call ourselves Disciples of Jesus Christ should: “Walk in Wisdom…Making the best use of our time.”
An examination of Ali’s life reveals four categories where we can make our minutes count for the glory and honor of God.
The Bible is very clear as to what our purpose in life should be. The concluding remarks in the book of Ecclesiastes says it all: “Here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).
Ali also understood his purpose; in a 1977 interview he said: “The best thing I can do is to get ready to meet God.”
Solomon in Ecclesiastes and Ali in his life both know that the purposes of our lives is all about honoring God with our thoughts and keeping His commandments. For one day we will stand before Him in judgment.
Ali put it best when he said “all I need is prayer” 1 Thessalonians 5:17 put it ever better “Pray without ceasing.
As Disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to uplift each other in prayer, and also pray for all of the other blessings and trials that are in our lives.
Ali was inspired by prayer and we can be inspired because there is always something to pray about, whether it is driving home safely from work, having a romantic evening with your spouse or uplifting our leaders of the government in prayer.
So let us pray without ceasing, for all we need is prayer.
Muhammad Ali was the Louisville Lip, because his verbal jabs were almost as good as his punches in the ring. And he had no problems heaping praise on himself:
I’m not the greatest. I’m the double greatest. Not only do I knock ‘em out, I pick the round. I’m the boldest, the prettiest, the most superior, most scientific, most skillfullest fighter in the ring today.”
God deserves our highest and deepest praise: David in Psalm 103 (verses 1-5) praises God as the greatest.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; with my whole heart, I will praise his holy name.
Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.
He forgives all my sins and heals all my diseases.
He redeems me from death and crowns me with love and tender mercies.
He fills my life with good things.
As much as people loved Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Ali loved people more.
He traveled the world to help out those in need. In 1998, he was chosen to be a United Nations Messenger of Peace because of his work in developing nations.
In 2005, Ali received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President George W. Bush.
He also opened the Muhammad Ali Center in his hometown of Louisville, Kentucky, that same year. “I am an ordinary man who worked hard to develop the talent I was given,” he said. “Many fans wanted to build a museum to acknowledge my achievements. I wanted more than a building to house my memorabilia. I wanted a place that would inspire people to be the best that they could be at whatever they chose to do, and to encourage them to be respectful of one another.”
God calls us to love people; in fact God’s greatest commandment is this: “and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these (Mark 12:30-31)
God has given us no better way to make our minutes count that to love our neighbor.
Marking Our Minutes Counts
Without question the world is a better place for the minutes that Muhammad Ali lived. While we may never be the heavyweight champion of the world, or light the Olympic flame, we can make the minutes of our lives count.
Ali would love it and God has built us for it.