Rules are only suggestions, right? We often think this in different situations:  as we drive and commit a traffic violation, when we eat something that’s not included in our diet, and especially when we get called in basketball for something that was “clearly” not traveling. I’m sure you can relate.

Recently, at the FCA College Max Out in Lincoln, I saw this play out. Two teams were set at opposite ends of a basketball court racing against each other to make 20 shots as a team from the elbow first. The coach stated, “Col 3:23 challenges us to maximize our God-given talents for the glory of Christ. Let’s use this drill to practice this. Count each made basket out loud as a team and let’s see which team wins.”

As the whistle blew, both teams set out frantically to “win.” Each player would take their shot, get their own rebound, and dish it back out. Before too long, from one end of the floor, I heard “eighteen, Nineteen, TWENTY!”

Both teams, rather excited, were brought to center court. When asked, “How did the count impact your confidence,” the team who reached twenty first, expressed how it strengthened their poise and level of assurance as they took each shot. The other team expressed how it was a non-factor, because after every made basket, they said, “Hallelujah,” and ever missed basket, they said, “Glory.” So, which team “won?”

Some would say the team who made twenty shots first, won. Others would contend the “Hallelujah” team won. As we look at the situation, let’s think of Col 3:23 in context. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” So, whether you’re lining up for B.E.E.F shooting or counting the made shots, we’re called to put forth our very best effort, while setting our mind on pleasing God. This means we can’t do one without the other. We can’t just shoot with great technique, thinking of ourselves, and say it was for God simply because we won. In the same breath, we can’t ignore the rules imposed on us by the coaches and officials, because we’re focusing so much on His “Glory.”

Christ himself said in Matt 22:21, “So give back to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and to God what is God’s.” Therefore, because of the perfect example of Christ submitting to earthly authority and being completely obedient to His father’s will, we must desire to follow His lead. Christ was obedient, even to death on the cross to make sinners right with a Holy God. We must see our competition as an act of submission to the rules and expectations established by the coaches and officials, while still being completely obedient to God with our thoughts, words, and actions. Only as God evaluates our heart and see’s the image of His Son being formed in us during competition are we seen as “winners” in His eyes.

Max Out Summary on Winning: The relationship one has with Jesus Christ, and that person’s willingness to serve God with their uniquely created abilities and gifts, is what God’s Word emphasizes as true success.

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