This is a dangerous message that could easily be taken the wrong way, but I think that it may be useful–at least Paul seemed to think so (2 Cor. 8:8). Here is another trial balloon for Our Daily Journey.
read > 2 Corinthians 8:1-15
I am testing how genuine your love is by comparing it with the eagerness of the other churches (v. 8).
John Isner and Nicolas Mahut made tennis history when neither man could defeat the other. Their first round match at Wimbledon was suspended because of darkness—twice. Finally, on the third day, after playing more than 11 hours, Isner hit two brilliant shots to break Mahut’s serve and win the longest tennis match ever played. The two players embraced at the net, posed for pictures with the overheated scoreboard, and praised each other for pushing their game to the limit. Their competition had created something remarkable that neither could accomplish on their own.
Competition can be a form of cooperation. As Isner and Mahut combined to construct a compelling match, so Apple challenged Microsoft to make better computers and General Motors learned from Toyota how to build more reliable cars. We raise our game when tested by a competitor, and together we make progress in whatever we are striving to win. Our athletes, computers, and cars are better than before, thanks to the sharpening edge of competition.
Competition even has a role in church. There is a bad form of competition, such as Jesus’ disciples arguing “about which of them was the greatest” in the kingdom (Mark 9:34). This competition is lethal because it assumes that our contest is a zero-sum game where my victory means your defeat.
But there is a good form of competition, such as when Paul encouraged the Corinthians to sacrifice like the Macedonians, who gave far more than they could afford. It may also appear in our four gospels, as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John enlarge our understanding with their “competing” accounts of Jesus’ life.
Do you know someone whose purity, prayer life, Bible study, or giving attitude puts you to shame? Use them as inspiration to elevate your game. When we compete, God wins.
more > Read Philippians 1:12-18 to learn how we should respond when others are competing against us for the wrong reason.
next > Is the point of competition to win or something higher? How can we tell when we have slipped into unhealthy forms of competition?