But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:57
When the runner from Tanzania limped into the Olympic stadium, it had been hours since the winner of the marathon had received his Olympic gold medal. Bleeding and bandaged from a fall earlier in the race, the runner limped to the finish line. Later, the runner was asked, "Why? Why did you stay in the race once you had lost? Why did you risk causing injury to your leg?"
"Simple," he replied. "My country did not send me 7,000 miles to start the race. They sent me 7,000 miles to finish it."
Almost every Olympics has a story such as that. Those stories provide a backdrop for what the world, when it is honest, considers to be the really important point of the Olympics: finding out who is the best. We want to know who is the best runner, swimmer, diver, shooter, gymnast.
We want to know what country has produced the athletes who are the best.
That's true in areas other than the Olympics. Do you need a few examples?
Go to the clubhouse at a golf course, any golf course, and say, "So-and-so is, without a doubt, the greatest golfer who ever lived."
You know what will happen. You will have an argument.
Say, "Babe Ruth was the greatest" and the Ty Cobb fans are going to come out in force, not to mention the folks who support Ted Williams, Willie Mays, and Hank Aaron. In fact, I'm going to get letters from Daily Devotioners who will say, "Klaus, you don't know nuthin'. Those guys are all bums. If you want to know the best ball player, look at _____." And then there will be a five-page letter telling me why their candidate is the one who should be called "the best."
We grasp for greatness. Watch the riots after a soccer match; look at what happens when a victorious team returns from a world championship; keep a close eye on the parents who are in attendance at their child's athletics.
If you didn't believe it before, you'll soon find out, most agree with legendary football coach Vince Lombardi whose line "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing" seems to make sense. After all, many in this world will maintain that second place is just another name for losing.
Now when it comes to salvation, all of us are second-place losers. In the pass-fail test for forgiveness, we all received a big failing "0 percent" for our lives. Left to our own devices, eternal damnation was our lot.
Thankfully, we are not on our own, and the Lord has, in the Person of His Son, given us a winner. Through His conquest of sin, the devil, and death, Jesus not only showed He was a Victor for Himself, He has also won for us. His victory has become ours and -- because of Him -- heaven has become a certainty.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, I give thanks that, in Jesus, I have been given the victor's crown of life. May my life reflect my appreciation for His blood-bought gift. In His Name I ask it. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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