Winning Last Place

We live in a society that is sports crazy. We love football and fishing, racing and wrestling, soccer and softball – not to mention baseball, basketball and golf.  Nearly all of us have had the experience of cheering for our team or favorite player to win, whether the contest was professional, college, high school or just the youth league team that our child or grandchild played on. And many of us have participated in sports ourselves. We’ve personally experienced “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat.”

From a spiritual perspective, sports are not necessarily a bad  thing.  According to the Bible, sports teach us important lessons about disciplining ourselves when striving for a goal (1 Corinthians 9:24-27), playing by the rules (2 Timothy 2:5), and running with endurance (Hebrews 12:1).  Obviously, we can allow sports to become a bad thing if we place too much importance on them or allow them to crowd out spiritual concerns. But sports can also impact us negatively in other ways. They can train us to be too competitive, self-seeking, and ambitious – too concerned with winning at all costs.

In most sports competitions, everyone wants first place. But there are times in the life of every Christian when he should seek last place. In Mark 9:35, Jesus told the twelve apostles, “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.”  Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees because “they love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues” (Matthew 23:6).  He told His disciples, “But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place…” (Luke 14:10).

The Bible reveals that we should be striving to win last place in our relationships with others!

“Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.” (Philippians 2:3).

“…Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” (1 Pet. 5:5). 

“...Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion.” (Romans 12:16). 

Here are some practical suggestions for winning last place. The next time that you disagree with a brother in an area of judgment or opinion, insist that your brother get his way. The next time that your wife or husband neglects to do a chore that merely benefits you, do it yourself. The next time they are looking for a volunteer at work to do some menial task, volunteer!  Win last place!