If winning isn’t everything, then what is? Can super athletes perform at their highest level without the mindset of winning? Watching the 2020 Olympics may have brought this question to mind. What does it take to be a true winner and is it measured by a medal? What is the race to which God calls us and whats is that prize?
A highlight of the Olympics is always the track and field events. Americans love to watch these human athletes reaching seemingly inhuman speeds. Running evokes images of the very first athletic games in ancient coliseums. Watching the preliminary races, more than one commentator suggested that even though it was not necessary to come in first place to qualify for the next race, mentally it was important. The mindset of already being the fastest sets the possibility for the athlete to be the fastest in the final medal race.
Gold medal athletes often attain great fame and sometimes great wealth. Gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps’ worth is estimated to be at least $55 million dollars.[i] Athletes who receive medals are sometimes paid by the country they represent for medaling. The United States pays $37,500 for Gold, $22,500 for Silver and $5,000 for Bronze.[ii] There are definite advantages to winning.
When an athlete exemplifies real sportsmanship it is also an act of winning. The medal is not the prize. The prize is winning through character. A prime example of this was when runner Isaiah Jewett was unintentionally tripped during his men’s 800-meter semi-final heat, he displayed unprecedented character by helping his fellow runner to his feet and finishing the race together.
“I always have to finish a race. I got Nigel (Amos) up as well. I could see that he was devastated,” Jewett said following the race. “He apologized to me. I told him, ‘Let’s just finish the race man.’”[iii] Nigel chose to allow Jewett to finish the race before him, displaying his apology for causing the fall of both athletes. The world watched the encounter, and the two athletes will be long remembered for their “win” by character.
In I Corinthians 9, Paul uses running a race as an analogy of every Christian’s true ministry in life. All runners run, but not all win the prize (vs. 24). Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training and they do it to get the prize (vs. 25). In II Timothy 4:8 Paul calls the prize a crown of righteousness.
As Christians we are encouraged to set our mark and run with purpose and determination. What do you do to train? Do you meditate on God’s Word and pray consistently? Do you set goals for your self that builds character, serves others, and shows Christ to the world?
That is winning the race of life.
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[i]https://www.aol.com/michael-phelps-net-worth-003023578.html [ii]https://www.cnbc.com/2021/07/29/tokyo-olympics-how-much-athletes-earn.html [iii]https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/olympics/2021/08/01/isaiah-jewett-nijel-amos-tripped-800-meters-olympics-sportsmanship/5446921001/