“Every champion was once a contender that refused to give up!” The fictional, yet larger-than-life, movie character Rocky Balboa said this. This week I have been thinking a lot about defeat vs. success. I want to succeed! I want to be the best, give the best, do the best, and live the best! I want to be a champion!
A champion retired from Major League Baseball this week––Derek Jeter. 20 seasons of playing shortstop for the New York Yankees with 5 World Series Championship rings along with a host of other awards. What a champion by definition HE WAS! Why, because didn’t give up!
But also this week…
A young boy in a dry and dusty corner of Africa didn’t retire, but breathed his last breath because there was no more health to go on. A young girl in Memphis fought her final battle with childhood cancer, not because she gave up, but because she had nothing left to give up. A young soldier stood this week for the ideals of freedom and democracy only to give his life in a worldwide struggle that has been ongoing for nearly 6,000 years––and he did so willingly. You see, none of them gave up…they gave everything!
2000 years ago a middle aged, Middle Eastern, Jewish man gave everything––His life! He gave EVERYTHING––not in defeat, but in VICTORY! His name…JESUS!
You see, I struggle with the definition of success that the world gives vs. the definition of Christ. I want to be a man that is successful (husband, dad, coach, pastor), yet I see that this definition changes through the lens of Jesus. In Luke 9:24 (NLT) “If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it.” The harder I try in my own power gets me further from the place Jesus speaks about; further from the place I long to be. Why? Because it is not about me, but He who is in me. John 3:30, “He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.”
As I continue to battle the definition of success in my own life, I am reminded of the words of Paul in 1 Cor. 15:54-58, “Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting” 56 For sin is the sting that results in death, and the law gives sin its power. 57 But thank God! He gives us victory over sin and death through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.”
So contender, do you want to be a CHAMPION? Then – Never Give Up, but GIVE EVERYTHING! And remember,
“…NOTHING YOU DO FOR THE LORD IS EVER USELESS!”