Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interest, but also to the interest of others. (Philippians 2:3-4)
It was recently brought to my attention that a young woman from our congregation was involved in an incident that I felt I had to proudly comment on. This young woman swims on one of the area's junior high school swimming teams and has been an outstanding swimmer in her school career as well as one of the best swimmers in the state of Michigan! She recently competed at the state finals and finished sixth in the state in the 100-meter breaststroke, her favorite event. She also competed in another event that was not her strong suit, but she gave it her best shot anyway. In that race, she was tied by a girl from another school. When it came to the presentation and awarding of the medals, there were not enough medals to go around and the girl from the other school did not get a medal. Then it was actually left up to the two girls as to who would get the medal. They had to decide the issue themselves. When the young woman from our church noticed the heartbreak on the face of the girl who had tied her in the race, she was moved with compassion and awarded the medal to the girl who had tied her! The other young girl could not believe her eyes and proudly accepted the medal with heartfelt tears and gratitude. It was an act of true sportsmanship, respect, and compassion between two competitors who had given the race their best shot.
In the scriptures, we are told a story about a young rich man who wanted to know how to receive eternal life. Jesus told him to obey all the commandments. The young man pridefully announced that he had obeyed all of them from the time he was a child. Jesus then told him if he wanted to be perfect, he should go and sell all he had and then come and follow Jesus. At this, the young man balked and walked away sadly because he possessed great wealth. When it came time to really being serious about serving God, the young man could not let go of his prized treasures. He may have worked hard for his wealth and sacrificed many things in order to have it. It may have brought him new opportunities, new and influential friends, and a good reputation. To give up everything and follow Jesus just didn't seem as fulfilling as his current lifestyle.
In contrast to the rich young man, the young woman from our church laid aside something that cost her dearly. Her hard work, monetary sacrifice, and statewide recognition were laid aside so someone else could be blessed, rewarded, and recognized. She saw the other girl's disappointment when she did not receive a medal and realized from her own life how precious that particular medal was to the young girl. I'm sure no matter how many medals the other girl wins in her swimming career, she will always remember the medal that was given to her as an act of sportsmanship, compassion, and friendship!
May we follow the example of the young woman from Downriver and give up something of great value and importance to us so that others can come to know Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. Jesus said, "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13).
Isn't it about time we lay down our lives for the Kingdom of God so others can take hold of the eternal life offered by Jesus Christ?