The Healthy Edge of Competition
“Run in such a way as to get the prize.” 1Co 9:24 NIV
We say things like, “It’s a rat race out there, and the rats are winning,” “Nice guys finish last,” “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing!” Such sentiments characterize our culture, driving workaholic lifestyles that destroy health, fracture family life, and eliminate the spiritual discipline required to have a growing relationship with God. So what should we do? Avoid all competition? Opt out of the race? Retire and watch the world go by? No, those are not options for a follower of Christ. So: (1) Beware of competitiveness that leads to jealousy. Cain’s competitiveness toward his brother Abel led him to murder (See Ge 4:1-8). He tried to put his brother down in order to lift himself up. King Saul tried to kill David when the crowd sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands” (1Sa 18:6-11 NKJV). Those words caused jealousy to grow like a cancer in him. (2) Understand that by seeking to excel in your calling, you exalt Christ. Paul writes: “You’ve…seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard…for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally” (1Co 9:24-25 TM). No second-rate effort, no settling for mediocre outcomes. “I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me. I’m staying alert and in top condition” (1Co 9:26 TM). Getting ahead of others isn’t what it’s about; it’s about maximizing all you do for God’s glory! “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men” (Col 3:23 NIV).