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The Joy of Winning

posted Jan 4, 2013, 10:06 PM by hbchurch org


December and January, perhaps more than other months, find millions of people absolutely riveted to scoreboards. Football fans must be in “hog heaven” this time of the year with the steady barrage of bowl games available to feed their insatiable appetites. Avid fans are elated when their team wins, but when they lose they are devastated. Winning is certainly the preferred outcome. But this is true of most of life’s endeavors. We are happiest when we experience the exhilaration of winning. 

The joy accompanying winning is a well-known phenomenon, irrespective of the place or the pursuit. Perhaps this is why the apostle Paul used so many athletic metaphors in his letters. Almost everyone appreciates the joy of winning. But Paul’s use of these terms was not intended to spur his favorite team on to victory. He spent his life trying to persuade people that ultimately, real joy comes from winning in the battle against Satan.

Paul’s own life was a stirring example of what it takes to experience that joy. From deep in the bowels of a Roman prison, he wrote an entire letter about joy (Philippians). Another time he wrote about how he had learned to be glad while experiencing the pain associated with a “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Some people might think that Paul was a deranged masochist, but he was not. He simply learned the spiritual equivalent of the modern day adage floating around most  gyms, i.e. “no pain no gain”. 

In Paul’s case the pain of the thorn caused him to rely upon the “power of Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10). He also pointed out that his “training program” was a daily pursuit (1 Corinthians 9:27). The same is true for us. The only way to experience the joy of winning in the war against evil, is to trust in the Lord’s power every day of our lives. Then when we near the finish line, we can join with the apostle Paul and say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith: henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give to me at that day; and not to me only, but also to all them that have loved His appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7-8)