The Olympics’ Wins and Losses

The Olympics’ Wins and Losses

Pastor Vincent - 31 July 2021

Weekend Devotion: The Olympics' Wins And Losses

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I believe the Olympics fever has caught up with most of us. Even for those who are not a fan of sports, I supposed you would have caught a few glimpses of different sporting events, and who have won or who have exited because of their loss. I mean cheers and disappointments are the realities in the Olympics, not only for the athletes, but also for keen spectators. After all, it is the most prestigious sporting event held every 4 years. Athletes train with all their life for this very moment.

 

Some may not know that Olympics has its roots from the ancient Greeks who loved competition of all sorts. Each year, the various city-states of Greece sent athletes to festivals of games, which were held to honor the gods. Strong and talented sportsmen seem to be a pleasure to the gods and they are highly honored. And subsequently, such practices and culture gave birth to the first modern Olympics Games in Athens in 1896, where sportsmen from different countries compete with one another. Of course, it is always a pleasure to watch humanity challenge their ultimate physical threshold. It’s a thrill to see record breaking feat. And countries with athletes showing off their athletic talents have also indirectly proved their worth and might. That is why the gold medal is worth all its effort.

 

But have we really asked: “What is the whole Olympics about?” Is it friendship? Is it sportsmanship? Is it a show of human strength and willpower? I mean of course there are many secondary goals.

 

But I think, to be forthcoming, the whole Olympics is still about winning. The winner has it all. The winner gets all the honor, both abroad and at home. Only the winner seems to do himself and his country proud. The one who tried his best but fail at most gets a consolation: “Well, he has done his best, he has shown fighting spirit”.

 

You see, as much as we try to hide it, we as fallen creature has been and will always be obese with winning. The prize of winning is so much lust after, that all of us want to win in different ways. Just as the Olympian is obsessed with winning in a particular sports event, the ordinary guy is obsessed with winning in this life. Maybe to him, getting good results, graduating with a good degree, finding a good job and living comfortable life is winning in this life. Or to a parent, seeing his child done well in life feels like winning. Even for many church ministers, they felt having their church numbers grow explosively and erecting grand and beautiful church buildings is a form of winning. As a matter of fact, no one likes to settle for mediocre. The lure of winning hangs behind the mind of everyone. And we have to admit our weakness for that.

 

You know, when I saw some of my favorite sportsman crashes out of some events. I felt so sorry for them. I felt the depressiveness of having climb so high and fall so hard. That is when our fallen nature torment us with extreme disappointment and shame. And the world will always console us by that old cliché: “Don’t worry about losing, the person who could stand up after falling deserves credit”. I mean we hear that all the time, from teachers, from coaches, from leaders. But if we fail to win again and again, we will inevitably be forgotten by them. I mean we cannot live with such consolation. Think about it, just as a few people win, there are so many others who didn’t make it, who went home with their heads down, who are quickly forgotten or who were thoroughly depressed and need weeks and months to be healed. So with the Olympics fever rising, let’s ask the thought-provoking question, “Is this life about winning?” As believers, what is it that God demanded of us? What is that God pleasing attribute that would deserve an honor and reward from God?

Now, I like to point you to a familiar parable, which I presume most of you would have read – the parable of the talents, where a master has given different amount of talent to his servants, each according to his ability. And he went on a long journey, and when he came back, he settled his account with them. And here is the account.

 

Matthew 25:19-21 “After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five talents brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

 

Now, we know we are all given different ability by God, and we are called to make good use of them. So first and foremost, we are to recognize our different ability. We are never called to outdo each other, but to recognize our God-given abilities and put them to good use.

 

Next, the servant who were commended by the master were commended with these words: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”. Please note, it is not: “Well done, talented and winning servant”. What God is truly after is a good and faithful servant. Now, what does it mean by being good? Why would a master praise a servant for being good? Surely being talented or going on a winning streak doesn’t make us good. What does the Bible mean by a “good servant?” It meant the servant see the master as a good and reasonable master and obey him willingly, unlike the wicked servant who thinks that the master is a hard man and disobey him.

 

Now, with all that is given you, do you think that God is good? Even if you have lesser abilities and talents as compared with your peers, do you thank the good God for creating you this way? If you do, then you are a good servant, who thinks well of your master. Then all that is left is for you is to be faithful with all that is given you.

 

Now, what does a faithful servant do? He does things loyally and consistently without worrying so much about the final outcomes. If you are a student, what God wants is that you be a faithful student. If you are a worker, be faithful in serving your boss as if you are serving the Lord. If you are a parent, you don’t have to worry about how well your child will do in life. All you need to do is to be faithful in nuturing your child, raising him or her up in the instructions of the Lord. If you are a sportsman, train faithfully and give your best, leaving the results to God. In fact, I would say the greatest challenge for a Christian sportsman is not about whether you can win that gold medal, it’s about being faithful and consistent, knowing that God has put that athletic ability in you, so you exercise it to the best of your ability. Ultimately, it’s not the gold medal that gets the reward from God, but the one who trust in God’s goodness and exercise his ability faithfully.

 

So whatever you are called to do my brethren, don’t let the obsession of winning cloud your mind. Yearn to be good and faithful with whatever God has entrusted you. 

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Pastor Vincent Choo
choochisan@gmail.com

Vincent is the Senior Pastor of The Life Church and Missions (Singapore) and is an ardent missionary to the Chinese World. He currently lives in Singapore with his wife, Qiufen, and has three kids, Mary, David, and Caleb.

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