Wednesday, February 24, 2010


I remember the old adage from my childhood, "Winning isn't everything." This is what our parents, teachers, and mentors told us when we got too worked up about contests or put competitiveness above more important values. Even as adults we need to be reminded that the thrill of winning isn't necessarily worth the price. In our dedication to pushing ourselves to the top, we often have to leave behind Christian concepts like mercy, kindness, selflessness, and humility. We stop being team players so that we can become superstars. We care more about being the "best" than we care about being good people. From a Christian standpoint, that's problematic.

Christianity is not about being the winner. We are victors through Christ, not in and of ourselves, and we share this special status with all other believers. On our own, we can do nothing to help or save ourselves. No matter how many competitions we win or how many ways we try to prove we're better than our fellow humans, we come no closer to God. God doesn't really care who's the best, because He designed all of us and gave us the talents and skills that distinguish us in the first place. He's not going to give us all the credit for the work He did in creating us. God is focused instead on the choices we make and how we use what we've been given to make a positive difference in the world. If winning a medal or two gives glory to God and reflects the creation He made us to be, then that's great. But it will be the authenticity and love of our actions that counts, not the award. No matter how good we are at winning competitions, we cannot earn our way into Heaven or achieve special status for our eternal souls. All we can do is accept the bounteous grace that Jesus, who alone was capable of winning the absolute competition against death, has freely shared with us.

It's true that Christians should strive to be all they can be. God gave us talents and skills for a reason, and we should endeavor to use them to the best of our ability for purposes that we think will please Him. Doing our best doesn't require us to compare ourselves to others, however. Competing against others will not prove our love or loyalty to God. God doesn't want us to beat others—He wants us to beat the sinfulness inside ourselves with His divine assistance. Anyone who sets up a competition about who's the best Christian or suggests that Heaven is a prize to be won doesn't really understand what Christianity is all about. God will never tell you that you aren't as good as someone else and will never be disappointed in you because you haven't won enough prizes or awards. He's proud every time you reaffirm your love for Him and reach out to others in His name. There's no competition in Christian love—just cooperative joy.

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