“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men…” – Colossians 3:23
“The morality of competition is not determined by the objectives of the activity itself, but by the heart of the participants.” (Quote: unknown)
At its best, competition compels us to do more than we could have otherwise, individually and/or as the body of Christ. Interestingly, the Latin meaning of “competition” is “strive in common”, “come together.”
At its worst, competition brings out the worst and destroys us. Some of you may remember the 1994 figure skating US National Championship (qualification for the Olympics) where Nancy Kerrigan (who placed first) was attacked by a man hired by the husband of the second place finisher, Tonya Harding, knocking Nancy Kerrigan out of the Olympics.
Competition is inherent and as old as human history. The story of Cain and Abel, Cain killing his brother Abel (Genesis 4) because of pure jealousy over God’s favor of Abel’s offering is certainly an example of unhealthy competition!
In Jesus’ parable, found in Luke 19:11-27, three men receive money to invest. Two of the men step up to the plate and compete, both returning profit; Jesus affirms their achievements. But a third man passively resists the competition, and Jesus challenges his attitude.
Paul pictures the Christian life—life itself—as a competition for a single prize. We are in a race (I Corinthians 9:24), he says, that requires perseverance (Hebrews 12:1). We are called to strive—to compete with attention and energy—for that single goal and its prize.
Competition is a fact of life and it’s everywhere we look. Agree or not: God filled the hearts of man with the desire to play and compete with one another in an effort to achieve their best! Therefore; competition is two opponents coming together for the purpose of bringing out the best in each other, not the worst!
Whether or not you buy into this definition of competition, how will you better model what God intended for competition in your own life?