Every single day we make hundreds and hundreds of choices. Some are automatic: when I get to work I do the same routine, I take the same route home almost every day, a have little rituals when I write that I think little about, but are still choices. There are other choices like what to wear, what to eat, to work out or not, and how to manage your schedule are all conscious decisions that we make everyday.
This is the first year I’ve really watched the Olympics and I’m really enjoying it! I am absolutely in awe of these athletes who are able to perform at such a high level. Watching these teen, twenty, and thirty-somethings compete for world medals in the sports they’ve dedicated their lives to is absolutely amazing to me. Most of the people I’ve talked to focus on the national pride they feel when their country wins a medal, but I find myself focusing on just how little I’ve accomplished when compared to these amazing Olympians.
We’re each faced with a choice: self-pity or change.
As I’ve watched the Olympics I’ve begun looking a little further into some of the Olympians. Many of these, especially those who are on the younger end of the scale, go to prestigious colleges and have devoted families. Each of these athletes don’t just win in their sport, they win in other areas of their lives. It’s not just about swimming or running or gymnastics or rowing, it’s about a life of devotion and discipline.
If you talk to any athlete, you’ll learn that mental training is just as important as the physical training they go through. The same is true for our Christian life, a life that should be marked by devotion to God. Paul addresses some of this in Romans 12: 1-11.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us. Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.
In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly.
Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically.“
The men and women in the Olympics were born with some degree of natural talent, as we all were, but they took the time and had the patience and discipline and wherewithal to master that talent. What would our lives look like if we did the same with the gifts we’ve been given? What if, because of our devotion to God, we actively worked to be the most loving? Or whose life could you change because you practiced being as generous as God has called you to be? Whatever gifts God has given you were made to glorify him and be shared with others. Let’s be a people who choose to follow and serve God and others well.