In the zero-sum game, I can’t win unless you lose.
I can’t do better unless you do worse.
Lots of things in life are zero-sum. Chess. Football games. Dividing an inheritance. Grabbing the last parking spot in a crowded lot. In all of these examples, one person’s gain means another person’s loss.
Our calling is not zero-sum.
Not even close.
Paul says, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it” (1 Corinthians 9:24), but he’s not talking about outrunning the people you sit beside every week at services. You don’t get a prize for crossing the finish line before them; you don’t get extra points by doing better than them.
Your race is against your own human nature, your performance is measured only against God’s perfect standards, and you win by finishing. Not before someone else, not better than someone else. Just finishing.
I don’t think most of us look at our calling that way. I think most of us understand our mission isn’t to out-Christian our brethren. So here’s a question:
If we’re not being measured against each other, what do we stand to lose by supporting and strengthening each other as we complete our races?
And another question:
What do we stand to gain?
“Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed” (Hebrews 12:12-13).
The whole race changes when it stops being about us finishing and starts being about everyone finishing.
Until next time,