Last week was a well-timed kickoff of my online virtual Zoom study for Discovering Jesus…
I have been amazed this week at the reaction I have received. With the release of The 10 Best Decisions a Man Can Make, I have been asked, “What are the best decisions?” One of my answers has been, “A man is at his best when he decides to be competitive.” The most common response I get is, “Really? That is surprising. I didn’t expect you to say that.”
This amazes me because the three most common pictures used to describe Christian living in the Bible are competitive. All three of these pictures are combined by the apostle Paul as he prepares Timothy for authentic manhood in 2 Timothy 2:1-6.
1You then, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. 2And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. 3Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. 4No one serving as a soldier gets involved in civilian affairs—he wants to please his commanding officer. 5Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. 6The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.
All three of these lifestyles have one thing in common – they all compete. Soldiers compete against enemies who want to defeat their country. Athletes compete against other athletes to win a contest. Farmers compete against the elements in order to harvest a crop.
It is, therefore, reasonable for us to conclude that godliness includes a healthy interest and participation in competitive pursuits. We contend for the truth against deception. We strain to provide for our families and keep them safe. We war against our selfish desires that would steal our energy, our opportunities and our influence.
To be sure, Christian living also includes gentleness and compassion but when the game is on, it is time to compete. I see this in my youngest son every week. He is a considerate young man who has a great circle of friends. However, he also plays college football and when he crosses onto the playing field, he is a ferocious competitor. I would expect nothing less of him and we ought to expect nothing less of ourselves. When it is time to be compassionate, let’s reach out with open hands and generous hearts. When it is time to compete, let’s step on the playing fields of life and wholeheartedly contend for what matters most to us.