Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional - Tuesday, January 29, 2019

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves…” — Philippians 2:3

Put Others Before Yourself

During the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, I recall a very touching example of sportsmanship that forever left an impression on a young, teenage me. An American male speed-skater had just won a dramatic (and somewhat improbable) gold medal in a certain race, grabbing the fastest time in the very last pairing of the day. I vividly remember the thrill of seeing one of our own win on American soil — especially at a time when our nation needed hope, following the devastating events of 9/11 just months before. 

But what I recall even more is what happened afterward. In an interview shortly following the race, the American seemed subdued for having just won the gold medal. He explained that, having spent some time training with the Canadian team in the years prior to the Olympics, he’d developed some deep friendships with the team. Earlier in the race that particular day, one of his Canadian friends had stumbled out of the start, fallen, and was unable to finish the race.

At his greatest moment of achievement, the American candidly said that he felt badly for his friend and felt like he couldn’t enjoy his moment fully because he knew his friend had done so poorly. Later, he reached out to his Canadian friend to make sure he was OK before going on with his own celebration. Only when he stepped on the Olympic podium to receive his medal hours later did the American give himself permission to fully enjoy his own success. 

This is a lesson for all of us, in sports and in life. There will be moments when, in the providence of God, we are given success in something and somebody else we care about is not. How do we go about handling a situation like this? Do we choose to show compassion for the other person first, or do we ignore how they feel and simply celebrate our own prosperity? 

The Bible tells us to humbly prefer others before ourselves (Philippians 2:3). Jesus even said that whoever would be greatest in His Kingdom must first be a servant (Matthew 20:27). God’s Word is clear that we will be known for how we love and care for one another, and this means even sometimes putting our own success aside in order to pay attention to the feelings and needs of others.

Today, in whatever you do, think of others and what they’re going through. Even if it’s been your best day yet, there’s always somebody else for whom it’s been the worst day. You will bring great honor to your Lord by remembering in all things to put others before yourself, and never let your own prosperity get in the way of your care and compassion for those less fortunate than yourself.

— Katherine Singer -Director of Community Relations, Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks baseball

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