Competition is an unavoidable part of life.
Two competing quotes:
“Winning isn’t everything; it is the only thing.” Coach Vince Lombardi (among many others!)
“What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” Jesus Christ
Today each of us goes to our place of work. In the vast majority of those places workers will compete. When the competition begins, the need to win becomes paramount.
- Fathers and mothers compete against the conspiracies of the media, the marketplace, and the mania of the post-modern milieu for the future of their children.
- Salespersons compete against others in the marketplace and even with other personnel.
- Those in the medical profession compete against the onset and spread of disease.
- Teachers and administrators compete against ignorance.
- Physical therapists help disabled people compete against impairment.
- Mental health professionals compete against sicknesses of the mind and soul.
- Christian ministers compete against sin and its destructive forces arrayed against society.
- Christians compete against their own inclinations to wander away from God and the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the devil.
- The Church competes with the powers of darkness in high places, in the name of Jesus, in the power of the Spirit, in the warfare of worship and with the irresistible force of radial obedience.
The list could go on and on.
This is not a game; this is war.
The coach’s quote above and the words of Jesus differ in one really significant way. Lombardi was talking about professional football—a game. Jesus was talking about eternal life, not at all a game. Today we do more than take our places in the work force, we take our positions in a line of battle.
- The enemy never takes a day off.
- His propaganda outlets never cease broadcasting.
- His agents in the field are tireless.
He has formed an evil empire that roars and stalks the innocent like a universal pride of lions, hungry, always hungry, seeking those unguarded ones to devour them.
When wars are lost, suffering breaks upon the defeated peoples far exceeding the pain of the war itself. If we lose our families, our marriages, our children, or our country, it doesn’t matter what trifles we traded them for. It will be a bad bargain. No matter how difficult the battle may be, the defeat will be worse.
But we will not lose. Jesus is victor!
You take your place in the line of battle with spiritual weapons for this spiritual warfare. They are mighty through God, not through electricity, or pyrotechnics, or computing, or fossil fuels, or even nuclear power. Our weapons are mighty through God to the destruction of strongholds and every device or deception that exalts itself to obliterate the name of Jesus.
Enter today’s competition assured of victory because winning this war is the only thing that matters!
What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
2 Corinthians 10:3-6
For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he (Jesus) made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NKJV
Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
Lord Jesus, I step into this day confident of Your overcoming grace. You have face all my enemies and defeated them. The competition wasn’t even close! You know my heart, Lord, how sometimes it strays from what is right. Temptation draws me away, competing for my attention. As You told us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil.” Your blood has cleansed my heart and Your Spirit dwells within. That makes me a winner no matter what the contest today. Help me prevail in today’s competition and to do so with a smile for my co-workers and especially for those who compete with me in unholy ways. Help me overcome evil with good. I want to walk in Your victory today, Lord Jesus. Amen.
Victory in Jesus
Words and Music: E.M. Bartlett
1. I heard about His healing,
Of His cleansing pow’r revealing.
How He made the lame to walk again
And caused the blind to see;
And then I cried, “Dear Jesus,
Come and heal my broken spirit,”
And somehow Jesus came and bro’t
To me the victory.
O victory in Jesus,
My Savior, forever.
He sought me and bought me
With His redeeming blood;
He loved me ere I knew Him
And all my love is due Him,
He plunged me to victory,
Beneath the cleansing flood.
2. I heard about a mansion
He has built for me in glory.
And I heard about the streets of gold
Beyond the crystal sea;
About the angels singing,
And the old redemption story,
And some sweet day I’ll sing up there
The song of victory.
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved