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Discovery Magazine 9/1/2011

Winning is not Everything

Do you like sports? Do you have a particular sport you like to play? Most Americans love sports. Thousands go to football and baseball games at high schools, colleges, and professional football stadiums. Millions watch sports on television. Americans have a reputation for being winners and taking their sports seriously. It’s easy to be very competitive when playing games with friends and opposing teams. In fact, you can find yourself so focused on winning and beating the other players that you forget about everything else—including what is right and what is wrong.

Take, for example, the famous all-star baseball player who was at bat last year. The pitcher threw the ball so close to the batter that it appeared as if the ball hit the batter. Immediately, the batter winced as if the ball had hurt him, causing the umpire to let him walk to first base. In a post game interview, the batter admitted the ball only hit his bat—not him. Many felt that what the batter did was a clever, perfectly proper action. But the Bible calls his action lying and deceit. It is very easy to forget the all-important principles of honesty, fairness, justice, and truth when you want to win a game.

One day a Jewish lawyer tried to test Jesus by asking Him a question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” How would you answer that question? Out of the entire Bible, what is the greatest, most important point? Jesus answered by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:18 to say that the most important feature of life is to love God, which includes the closely connected need to love people (Matthew 22:35-40). Loving God and loving people are “the bottom-line.” They are what life is all about. They are to be the focus of our lives.

You see, Christians are Christians 24/7. That means that everything we do in life is guided by Christian principles. It means that a Christian never loses sight of the ultimate, central purpose of life—to please God and love others. Yes, it is good when you approach a task (like a game or sport) to try your hardest and give it your best. But we have to always keep in mind that our number one concern is acting the way God wants us to act. It means treating others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12). If you would not want an opposing player to lie or cheat during a game, neither should you. And even if he does cheat, the Christian always keeps in mind that God is in His heaven looking down on our actions, hoping that we will please Him by living the way we should.

So always remember: winning is not everything. In fact, winning falls way behind the higher, critically important concern of reflecting Jesus in our actions, and caring for the well-being of others—even enemies and opponents. The next time you are playing a game, look over at the other team and ask yourself: “Do I want them to go to heaven? What can I do to set a Christian example before them?”



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