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Sports Spectrum Daily Devotional: Tuesday, March 17

“Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” — Romans 14:19

Lift Others Up

While watching the U.S. Open tennis tournament last summer, the world witnessed one of the most touching acts of sportsmanship ever shown. The rising teen tennis star Coco Gauff had been steamrolling her way through the draw, earning herself a showdown with world No. 1 Naomi Osaka. Osaka is a player on the rise in her own right, only in her early 20s and already a two-time major winner. Everyone was excited to see how these two young ladies would compete against each other.

Osaka knew going into the match that the crowd would be on Coco’s side, so she was aware that she’d have to be focused if she wanted to have a chance to win. As it turned out, the match was over quickly, 6-3, 6-0. Gauff’s game let her down in the big moment.

At the net, the two young ladies gave each other a hug, but what came next proved completely unexpected and nothing short of heartwarming. After both players shook hands with the chair umpire, Osaka followed Gauff over to her chair and proceeded to ask her something. Coco was in tears, disappointed she’d let the fans down and didn’t play better in the match. Osaka consoled her a bit, then Gauff followed her over to where the court-side reporter was to do the on-court, post-match interview. A few words were exchanged. Next thing they knew, both gals were out on the court.

Osaka had asked Coco to be part of the interview afterward, knowing that the fans would want to hear from her, and offering the American a chance to say “thank you” to everyone for their support. Initially, Coco said she didn’t want to do it, but Osaka had encouraged her to go ahead anyway. After Coco said a few words, she stepped aside for Osaka to talk. But Naomi wasn’t done yet. Before she’d address her victory, she said a few words to Coco’s parents and thanked them for raising a great player and an even better person. Tears came to Osaka’s eyes as she spoke. It was a beautiful scene.

Following the match, this touching gesture was the only thing people could talk about. What had happened on the court wasn’t as important as what had happened off of it. Naomi’s humility to consider Coco’s feelings in defeat over her own in victory was nothing short of stunning. In sports, moments like these are all too rare. People accept that there’s a winner and a loser, but don’t often feel it necessary to go out of their way to lift the spirits of the one they’ve just defeated. But Osaka showed a different way.

And Jesus has also. By His willingness to be with lepers, tax collectors and sinners that the Pharisees and society of the day would never have thought of interacting with, Christ proved that love goes places and does things that others won’t do.

So how will love compel you to go out of your way to lift up someone else today?

Katherine Singer

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