LifeLink  Devotions (Click for Audio Blog)

Friday, January 28, 2022

Anyone who has ever been involved in team competition or been a fan of a team will be able to relate to the next principle of joy. There is nothing that destroys the joy of a team faster than dissension caused by the self-serving attitudes and actions of a team member. In the same regard, there is nothing that brings greater fulfillment of joy than to see a group of people from various backgrounds and experiences with differing personalities and passions coming together to accomplish a common goal for the good of all.

I remember one such day in particular where this played out. Three friends joined me on a team that joined ten other such teams for the purpose of accomplishing a common goal. Now on the surface it appeared that each of the eleven, four-member teams was competing against the other teams in a golf tournament, but that would be an incorrect evaluation of the day. The goal was the raising of money for a Christian ministry that reaches kids for Jesus. The primary focus of the event was to see how much money we could raise to see this ministry continue to survive and flourish in our area high schools. Some of the team members raised large amounts of money and had connections to major donors, while others brought in only small amounts. But at the end of the day, each person was commended for his or her efforts regardless of their contribution size. The team succeeded without the special recognition of the individual. When the contributions of each member of the team are recognized and valued, no matter how small, heroes are eliminated, and joy is made complete. As the old baseball poem goes, there was joy in Mudville because it didn’t come down to one person’s swing, but because the team had come together in unity and reached the goal.

It would have been very easy on that day to focus on the wrong things. It would have been easy to be recognized as the hero for making two 20-foot putts in a row and having team members fall on their knees in front of me in an act of homage. But that would have been to accept what was not rightfully mine, for other team members got us to the position where those putts could be made. Everyone’s contribution on our team led to us winning the championship that day, but the honor of winning was not the completion of the joy for the day. If it was, then it was only our joy at the expense of all of those who did not win. No, the real joy was in seeing all of the golfers and volunteers come together and accomplish a common goal.

That’s what Paul refers to in today’s Scripture.

Philippians 2:1-4 “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”

We must not get so enamored by the small accomplishments of the individual that we fail to see the bigger accomplishment of the whole team. If there is one thing I hate about professional sports more than anything else it is when an athlete draws attention to himself after doing something great. The game is not over. The team has not accomplished its goal. The athlete has done only what they are being paid to do. But still they selfishly seek the approval and praise of people.

May this attitude never enter the church of Jesus Christ. May individual churches never boast about their accomplishments until all churches accomplish together the goal of reaching the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. May individuals in our churches never boast about anything except what the whole body is doing. May we truly have the attitude of Jesus, who humbled Himself and became a servant to others for their good, and as a result has been exalted to the highest position of joy. Make my joy complete by being those kind of people.

Pastor John

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