For the sports fans reading this, the major league baseball playoffs are upon us. If you’re not a sports fan, I’ll get to the scripture in just a minute. There’s a lot of excitement when it comes to the playoffs. There is often a very fine line between winning and losing. An example is the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. They had to win 17 games in a row just to make the playoffs this year. They were excited about playing in the playoffs and maybe even the World Series. However, it only took one pitch, one hit, and their playoff experience was over.
The game was tied 1-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning. The Los Angeles Dodgers were about to bat. It had been a close game throughout. A runner got on base, and one pitch later, a home run later, and St. Louis had been beaten, 3-1. That one hit changed the atmosphere in both dugouts. One dugout was full of excitement and joy. The other dugout could hardly take in what had happened. As long as it took for the ball to go over the fence in the outfield, emotions changed. Sometimes our experiences are about winning or losing. No ties. No moral victories.
For Christians, while this life is not a game that is played where the team with the winning score wins, the Bible does tell us we are to do our best to win. Winning means gaining eternal life. In 1 Corinthians 9:24-27, Paul talks about the idea of competition. I want you to read all four verses, but I just want to highlight one. In verse 24 he writes: “Don’t you know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run like that, that you may win.” Paul was probably referring to the Isthmian games. They were sort of like the Olympics where athletes competed in different events, including racing. To Paul, the goal was to win, not just finish. We are challenged to live our lives to win, which means to please God, to show Christ in what we do.
Winning doesn’t just happen with one pitch. Winning takes place way before the game starts. Training, working out, disciplining our bodies to be conditioned are all part of getting to the point of winning. Living a life pleasing to God is more than just a one decision event. Accepting Christ as our Savior is important, and indeed the first step. However, it goes deeper than that. Living our lives in a way to please God comes from disciplining ourselves to being obedient to Him. It involves us practicing prayer and Bible reading. It involves us studying God’s word so that we can hide it in our hearts. Winning is about an attitude, a mindset. True, it is great to win the game. But it is more important to put ourselves in a position to win. We do this by preparing and practicing living for God. Until next week….
Peace and Blessings… Johnny