This past weekend was another installment of one of the great rivalries in baseball, and all of sports - the New York Yankees versus the Boston Red Sox. As a Red Sox guy, images like the one above and the weekend sweep bring joy to my heart. However, as a Red Sox guy, there’s also the lingering suspicion that this year’s team being touted as the “best Red Sox team ever” has the potential to end miserably. Old habits in the hearts of fans die hard, even after success!
The rekindling of an old rivalry got me thinking about the nature of rivalries. To say rivalries aren’t Biblical would be inaccurate. They’re everywhere in the Book! Cain and Abel. Jacob and Esau. Joseph and his brothers. David and Saul. The two brothers in the parable of the Prodigal son. Even Jesus and the religious leaders of the day sparked a rivalry ending in Christ’s death.
As I heard one popular preacher of the Word say this week, the Bible is a chronicle of people doing things wrong as much as it is a set of directions of how to do things right. Rivalries exist because of our fallen nature and they’re real. We create adversarial relationships against other people, teams, and ideas. Does competition really need to be this way?
I’m convinced that it doesn’t. I believe that the words of Christ and the words of Paul can be applied in such a way on the field that it will draw out the best in us. In his letter to the Galatians, Paul says, “If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:25-26) This speaks to the idea of rivalry and gives us an opportunity to focus on the Spirit in competition.
We have no need to become conceited when we experience success, and we have no need to envy someone else when we’re on the short end of the stick. We can accept success humbly and learn when we fall short. This makes sport an open door to learning. Rivalries in sport are fun in that they raise the intensity of a given contest. But what is God calling us to in those moments of highest intensity? An opportunity to live by the Spirit and be joyful no matter the outcome.
What’s your favorite rivalry and how has it drawn out the best in you? The CG community would love to know! Reply or share your answer via the Complete Game social media platforms today.