“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of others.” — Philippians 2:3-4
During the 2021 Summer Olympic Games, a rare and heartwarming moment took place at the track as Qatar’s Mutaz Essa Barshim and Italy’s Gianmarco Tamberi battled for more than two hours to decide who would take home the title of high jump champion. As each kept matching the height of the other, they were finally offered the opportunity to take part in a jump-off to decide the winner. But what came next surprised even the officials.
The two men looked at each other, then asked if it was possible to just award two gold medals and share the title. The officials confirmed that it was indeed possible. Barshim and Tamberi both agreed that is what they wanted, leading to a mutual celebration and the respect of both those in attendance and those watching at home.
It became quite the story in the days following as people wanted to hear from the athletes what led them to such a display of sportsmanship. Both could’ve easily agreed to the jump-off, leaving one with gold and the other with the silver medal. But instead, they made history as the first joint Olympic podium in athletics since 1912.
This wonderful exchange prompts the question: What would the world be like if people looked out for the interests of others more so than their own? What would happen if everyone approached their work with the idea that victory is always bigger than themselves? None of us “win” in life alone. Even when we accomplish individual achievements, there are still many people whose wisdom, help, prayers and support enabled us to have that success. We’ve had others pushing and motivating and inspiring us along the way and, especially in something like team sports, we share the glory with others.
God made us for community. The Bible is clear that nobody can really experience a rich and meaningful life without the presence and participation of others. And although we all travel our own individual paths, we still do so while being given many opportunities to include and bless others as we ourselves have been. Paul, in his epistle to the Philippians, says that nothing is to be done out of “selfish ambition or vain conceit” (Philippians 2:3). Sadly, there is a lot of that in this world. But we, as Christians, have the opportunity to change that by looking out for and protecting the best interests of others — in humility, seeking the welfare of our fellow neighbors above our own.
Perhaps the next time you’re faced with a choice as to which way benefits just you and which way benefits others involved, you’ll take a lesson from these two Olympians, who put friendship and camaraderie above individual pursuit, and enjoyed a victory far sweeter than if one had just won gold himself. The desire that both be a winner was far greater than their own personal dreams and that, I believe, is something all of us should pursue ourselves.
— Katherine Singer
If you would like to submit a devotional, please email all submissions to