I received a copy of the late Alex Trebek’s autobiography for Christmas. At one point in that volume, he was suggesting reasons for the popularity of the game show he had hosted for so many years, “Jeopardy.” He believed part of it may be due to the fact that Americans tend to be so competitive. That spirit would come into play even within families as they watched the show together.
Do you tend to be competitive? Some people view such a quality as being out of line with the spirit we should be manifesting as followers of Christ. They see it as something we need to restrain or try to rid ourselves of altogether. While there are certainly aspects of it we need to tone down or keep in proper perspective, I don’t believe having a competitive spirit is necessarily bad. The Bible indicates that we just need to channel it in the right direction. Let me share a couple of those areas with you.
The first one has to do with our relationship with the Lord and our daily walk with Him. The Bible sometimes uses sports analogies to describe our journey through life as believers. One of those says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (I Corinthians 9:24). This is encouraging us to run so as to win or, in other words, to run competitively. We need to give it all we’ve got, or as they say these days, be “in it to win it.”
I’m afraid there are too many believers who aren’t running their race competitively. Maybe we rightfully emphasize how we began the race when we received Jesus as Savior or how we’re looking ahead to reaching the finish line one day to be with the Lord in heaven. However, how are we running in the meantime? Too many are acting like we’re on a casual Sunday stroll through the park rather than giving it all we’ve got in drawing close to the Lord, serving Him, and reaching out to a lost world. We need to get more competitive and challenge ourselves to be all we can be for God. Challenge yourself to put more heart, time, and energy into seeking and serving the Lord.
Another area in which I believe the Bible encourages us to channel our competitive spirit has to do with our spiritual opposition – Satan and his forces. Ephesians 6:10-13 tells us that we’re competing against evil spiritual powers in this world. It reminds us that we’re not wrestling against flesh and blood – we’re not battling against people. Our competition is not those of opposing political views or leaders who would take our country in the wrong direction. Some of those people may be allowing themselves to be used by our enemy, but they’re not our main foe. Too many of us are sitting on the sidelines instead of getting in the game and battling our real competition. Or we’re too busy focusing on people whom we consider to be the problem and aren’t paying attention to the one motivating those people and pulling the strings behind the scenes. Let’s channel our competitive spirit toward resisting the devil and praying against what he’s trying to do in our world today. Get serious about the enemy of your soul and start taking the fight to him.
So I came up with one of those little rhyming phrases to remind us of these truths about being competitive as we move ahead in this new year. I’ll leave it with you as a question to ponder: “How will you run in 2021?”