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Spiritual Sportsmanship

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I love watching the Olympics because I love sports, competition and people performing at their best. I don’t celebrate when people from other nations fall or mess up. I’m sure it’s devastating to them. They’ve spent a lifetime trying to perfect a skill and then, when the whole world is watching, they slip up and fall. We shouldn’t celebrate when anyone messes up simply because we don’t like them, are in competition with them or they’re from another country. We should celebrate with those who win and help those who didn’t.

I read the story of Dario Cologna from Switzerland. He won the gold medal in men’s cross country skiing. After skiing 15 km (9 miles), he, like everyone else collapsed at the finish line. He had given it his all. Instead of going back to get a massage or to celebrate, he waited until the last person came across the line and congratulated him for completing the race. Roberto Carcelen of Peru finished in 87th place and about 30 minutes behind Cologna. Carcelen is Peru’s first winter Olympian and raced even though he fractured a rib in training. The last person he expected to see was the gold medal winner.

Each one of us are in a race as a Christian. Paul told us to run as if to win the prize. At the end of his life, he said, “I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful (II Timothy 4:7).” He wanted us to approach the Christian life as a race. It takes training, discipline and hard work over time. We are to stay focused on the prize as we run it. At the end of our life, we should be able to say we gave it our all and collapse at the finish line. We should be like the gold medalist in the Olympics who knows they gave it their all and has a great feeling of accomplishment.

We should also be like Dario Cologna from Switzerland. We should celebrate with others who complete the race. We should encourage others to keep going when they’d rather give up. We should recognize this life isn’t just about getting across the finish line in first place, but it’s also about helping others make it to the end. Galatians 6:1 says, “If another believer is overcome by sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path.” We shouldn’t be so competitive in our faith that we fail to stop and help others who have fallen. We shouldn’t be so self righteous that we celebrate when other believers whom we don’t like fall.

Its never a good day when someone falls, especially those who are well known in the faith. It’s our responsibility to help them up. It’s our responsibility to restore them. It’s not our job to laugh or to make fun of. Each one of us are human and will fail in our race at some point. Each one of us will need restoration from other believers. Keep your eye out today for others who need a hand back up. Look out for those who may not be as swift as you are in the race. Celebrate their victories and share their burdens when they fall. That’s how we can fulfill the law of Christ.

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