So, who are we in a competitive situation? Before you think I am going to say, “Everyone should just get along and get a participation trophy,” just take a look at Scripture. Multiple times, God told the Israelites to defeat their enemies; He gave David the strength and courage to defeat Goliath (1 Samuel 17); He gave Gideon the victory (Judges 7) and Christ defeated death and hell (1 Corinthians 15).
Since victory and defeat are a part of life, we need to understand who we are to be in those moments of competition. Paul tells Timothy to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Christ” (2 Timothy 2:1-4).
1. Soldiers fight to win. Soldiers go into battle to win, not to lose. When we compete, it is good to have winning as the goal, as long as we win the right battles for the right reasons. We are to glorify God in everything we do (Colossians 3:17-24) and we are to win with a spirit of humility, because every victory comes from the Father (James 1).
2. They know their enemy. Soldiers don’t do battle against comrades. Yes, they each strive individually to do their best and carry their own weight, but they also understand they are part of a network of soldiers, a team, and they work together to reach their goals and objectives. Many times, we compete with the wrong side (2 Corinthians 10:11-13). We rival our teammates instead of focusing on the competition itself. Especially in the spiritual realm, we need to do battle with the forces of darkness, not the soldiers sitting next to us in church on Sundays (Ephesians 6). And in the physical realm, competing with our own teammates is like going into battle with half our armor; we need to stop sabotaging our own side and encourage and push each other to keep the right focus (Hebrews 3).
3. They use the right weapons. When the Israelites went to battle, they were following God’s orders. Gideon fought with pitches and lanterns, Joshua walked around the city and David used a sword. Each followed God’s instructions and God receives the glory for their victories. God does not give us a guarantee we will win every competition in the physical realm of this world. Saul won the battle, but he lost the war, and his kingdom, when he did not follow God’s instructions (1 Samuel 15). We fight spiritual battles with supernatural weapons–truth, righteousness, peace, faith, salvation, the Word of God, and prayer (Ephesians 6). We will not win without God’s arsenal and we depend on Him to produce these things in our lives (Galatians 5).
Competition, then, does have its place in our lives, but it is meant to mold us. We learn how to win, but not at any cost; we know the enemy and exert our efforts against them, not our comrades; and we use the weapons we have been issued to win the battles. When we focus on the real goal, the real enemy and the right weapons, we compete the way we were meant to.
Abba, Father, thank You that competition is part of Your design for our lives. It helps to mold us and make us better soldiers for You. Help us to keep the right focus, to know who our enemy is and to use the weapons You provide for us to be able to stand, fight and win for Your honor and glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.