The 2018 Winter Olympic Games are in full swing in Pyeong Chang, South Korea. There is not much attention given to the more obscure sports like curling. The prime TV time is given to the more exciting sports like skiing, snowboarding, and ice skating. There are 2,952 athletes from 92 countries around the world competing in 102 events across 15 different sports. Almost all of them have spent years and untold hours in grueling training programs. Many of them have suffered injury, rehabilitation, recovery, and then retraining. There has been blood, sweat, and tears for most of them as they have dedicated themselves to being prepared to compete. The level of sacrifice for an Olympic athlete is extreme but that is what it takes to win the prize. Then at the Games, only the three individuals who are able to perform the best in their event are rewarded with a gold, silver, or bronze medal. Everyone else goes home, many with dashed hopes and crushed dreams.
I am so glad that is not the way it is with God as we seek to obtain the prize of Heaven! Sometimes we Christians may compare ourselves to someone in the Bible like Paul. For example, he says this about himself in 2 Corinthians 10:24-27, “Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.” As we consider what Paul endured for the sake of Christ we may wonder if we “measure up” to his efforts so we can be acceptable to God. I can tell you right now that we don’t. The great thing is that we don’t have to measure up to Paul nor anyone else! We are not saved by our works but by the grace of God through our faith in Jesus Christ.
God does not allow only those who perform the best to have His gift of eternal life. Our reward from God is based on our faith in Him, not on our performance. There is no need to compare yourself to anyone else. Remember the words of Ephesians 2:8-10, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Believe. Obey. Be faithful to God. Be saved! This is what it takes to win the prize of God.