“23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
– Colossians 3:23-24
With the CrossFit games complete and USA weightlifting national championships approaching next weekend, competition has filled our lives for the last month. Every chance you get to open your Instagram or look at your Facebook or check out Twitter, you come face-to-face with competitor's reactions to their finish or competitors thanking those who supported them. Competition is everywhere.
Competition is a good thing. It drives us to greater feats than we thought possible. Competition drives us to train and discipline our bodies and our lives in ways that we never would without a looming test before us. Competition makes us better men and women as we pursue excellence in the sport we've chosen.
For the Christian though, competition can cause conflict. Culture would say that competing for personal glory and even competing for your team's glory is ultimately why we compete. This is why we see athletes elevated to the level of supernatural in media today. This is why we see athletes dancing endzones and talking trash after dunks. This is why we read athletes tweeting obnoxious things and belittling their opponents after beating them. For those athletes, competition is all about their glory in their success. For the Christian this has to be different.
Colossians 3:23–24 does not give us the option of making competition about ourselves or anything but the Lord. He tells us to work hard and it tells us as a result of my hard work to be excellent at the sport we've chosen but God does not let us off the hook there. In fact, God commands that we make much of the one who gave us our talent and ability. That would be Him. It's hard in sports like CrossFit or weightlifting where the entire competition seems to be about one person standing on one field or one platform and their effort and their accomplishments. However, God calls us to a higher glory than the one that will fade and fall apart when it's based on ourselves.
God loves competition. He also loves the result competition has on our hearts and our lives and on our sanctification. However, it is important that we don't make competition something that is solely for our elevation and glory. Remember who gave you that talent. Remember who you work heartily for. Remember who ultimately deserves the glory and honor when we succeed and we fail. His glory and his elevation is of eternal value and making much of the Lord is a far better purpose than our own personal, small glory.