Competitiveness is ingrained in our DNA. There are people who dedicate themselves to being the best in raising a family, their profession, their sport; Businesses compete for shelf space and market share within a global economic framework. However, in the pursuit of excellence and drive to be number one, how far are you willing to go? At what cost are you willing to claim victory?
“Really, what profit is there for you to gain the whole world and lose yourself in the process?” (Mark 8:36, The Voice).
What if I told you that your competitor is not your friend, family member, colleague, or rival team? What if you are not in competition with the company across the street or across the globe? You are your biggest competitor. You have to live with the results of the process. Long after the cheering has stopped and the dust has settled on the trophy, you will still have to look at yourself in the mirror. As Christians and as everyday people, we must take inventory and assess if we are putting forth the effort to be better than we were yesterday. I am not emphasizing a religious works mindset, but can we walk away from the day knowing we put in our best effort?
If we want to improve ourselves, we must focus on what is within our control. We must focus on the business we need to do. We cannot waste precious time in worrying about what other people are doing or what they will think of us. Unfortunately, we will never have ideal circumstances in the competition of life, but we must compete with what we have. All of us have to run our race well.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1, NKJV).
The Apostle Paul used the analogy of competing in a race in describing our Christian walk. Paul also explains how we should run the race and our objective.
“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.” (1 Corinthians 9:24-27, NKJV).
Our resolve to run our race must begin in our spirit. It is vitally important for an athlete to be in peak physical shape, but the athlete must also be mentally strong. We must lean on the guidance of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and applying God’s word to our lives in order to renew our minds.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13, NKJV).
“That He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man.” (Ephesians 3:16, NKJV).
“Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, for all patience and longsuffering with joy.” (Colossians 1:11, NKJV).
It is of monumental importance that we stay the course in this life. We must do our best despite the circumstances. We must be willing to examine ourselves and truthfully claim that we stuck it out. When we come to the end of our lives, can we say we finished the course as Paul did (2 Timothy 4:7)?
Athletes compete for rings and trophies, we must compete with ourselves to receive our prizes, which are the crowns we will lay at Jesus’ feet:
The results, which are our joy and crown- Philippians 4:1.
The crown of rejoicing- 1 Thessalonians 2:19.
The crown of righteousness- 2 Timothy 4:8.
The crown of life- James 1:12, Revelation 2:10.
The crown of glory- 1 Peter 5:4.
The prize of the high calling of God- Philippians 3:14.
All of us have a limited amount of time to live on this earth, so let us dedicate the rest of that time to strive and be the best people we can be. Let us stand as strong pillars in the midst of the crumbling façade that is the modern world. God bless you all.