August 5, 2016
I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing. – 2 Timothy 4:7-8
Being a baseball fan, at times I cannot help but notice the determined look that comes across the players’ faces when they are eager to win a game. The manager watches the pitcher closely to be sure he is using the right type of pitches, and might signal to have the batter walked if he looks like a threat. The third-base coach may direct a batter to bunt the ball, a runner to steal a base, or perhaps call for a fake bunt to help a runner steal a base! In many baseball games, one play can determine the final outcome, so the entire team must be focused and alert. They have spent hours practicing together as a team, and individually they have also been playing the sport for years. Yet, even with such vigilance, no team can win every time. If both teams spent every waking hour preparing for the game, still only one would win, and one would lose.
With the Olympic Games all over the news, I am also struck by the thought that among so many athletes who compete in a particular event, just three will win a prize and only one will be the winner. They have all spent countless hours in preparation, yet only one will win. No amount of determination or commitment can guarantee victory.
Our Christian walk is often compared to a physical sport. We train spiritually by studying God’s Word and applying it to our lives. Every day we put our training into action as we strive to live by His principles and serve Him to the best of our abilities. As Paul mentioned in today’s focus verse, at the end of our lives we can win a prize—a crown of righteousness. However, unlike baseball games and Olympic events, we do not have to wonder if our preparation will be enough to beat the competition. Paul said that there is a crown not only for himself, “but unto all them also that love his appearing.” That is good news! That means all of us can win! We can have a close relationship with God on earth and live with Him eternally in Heaven if we will simply follow the instructions in His Word.
As Christians, we need to have the same focus and determination that top athletes display. Yet our eyes are not set on earthly gain; they are looking toward that heavenly goal. The enemy will try to hinder us, but we can know that we will win because God has promised victory through the power in Jesus’ Blood.