Does someone have to lose for someone else to win?
I like to win. You probably like it, too. When I was in fourth grade, I won a writing contest. When I was in middle school, I won a spelling bee. When I was in college, I won a freshman essay competition.
I never won a race, a gymnastic meet (I could barely execute a forward roll), or any sort of athletic competition. I never won the lottery. I never won an art competition.
It’s not surprising that I avoid athletic competition, lotteries, and painting. We tend to avoid venues in which we are likely to lose.
We like to win. We live in a competitive world. We want the best jobs, houses, talents, kids, and, most importantly, the best hair. Worldly winning requires comparing ourselves to someone else. It also requires someone to lose.
The kingdom of God doesn’t work that way. We are not competing with each other. Galatians 5:26 says, “Let us not become conceited, competing against each other, envying each other.” We don’t compare ourselves with others and puff up with pride. We don’t compete with each other to feel good about ourselves. And we aren’t jealous when someone else does well.
Winning, as a disciple of Christ, means showing kindness, love, and forgiveness. It means serving others. It means putting the needs of others above our own. It means walking in faith. We don’t have to compare ourselves to anyone else. And no one has to lose for us to win.
When I won in fourth grade, I got a silver dollar and I have no idea what happened to it. When I won in middle school, I got the to go to the district spelling bee, where I lost on the word, “matrimonial.” When I won the essay competition, I got a small scholarship to a college I only attended for one semester.
Those wins, in the grand scheme of things, meant nothing. I have nothing to show for those so-called victories. Not so with spiritual victories:
“If your faith remains strong, even while surrounded by life’s difficulties, you will continue to experience the untold blessings of God! True happiness comes as you pass the test with faith and receive the victorious crown of life promised to every lover of God!” (James 1:12).
Our “wins” as a Christian are eternal. Every kindness is recorded. Every difficulty we endure is noted. Our faith is recognized. And when we receive our reward for those things, it will be an eternal reward. It will never fade, it will never disappear. The ultimate victory is the crown of life we receive in heaven–and hearing the Lord say, “well done.”
No other victory compares to the victory of a disciple of Jesus who crosses the finish line and makes it home. And that, my friend, is the definition of a winner.
Dear God, give me grace to run my own race without comparing myself to others. Let me not be conceited or driven to prove my value by competing with others. Help me remember that winning means faith that endures, patience during difficulties, and perseverance in all circumstances. In Jesus’s name, amen.