A reading for Wednesday, January 22, 2014: John 3:22-36

Competition is just one of the blessed gifts God has given.  It makes us better.  When we are tested against another, and either win or lose, there is always character development.  As children we are taught how to lose through competition.  We are taught that a good loser delights in the winning of another, accepting the defeat with gratitude at being a part of a healthy competition.  This ensures an invitation to compete again in hopes of another outcome.  There is no harm in losing.

When we win, we are also taught to be gracious and to celebrate the spirit of competition.  Winners do not gloat over the loss of another.  Self-promotion and bragging are not a part of healthy competition.  Nobody wants to compete again with a poor winner, just as with a poor loser.  Humility in winning makes a winner even more admired and celebrated by others.

When John and Jesus begin baptizing in separate places, there are those who want to divide them from one another through competition.  They are hoping to make it seem as if the two are competing with one another for fame and notoriety.  They are hoping that John will see himself as the loser, and more than that he will be a poor loser.  If they can turn John away from Jesus, perhaps they think to themselves, then we can get John to turn on Jesus.  John might discredit Jesus and the work he has come to do.

But John is not competing with Jesus.  There are no winner and losers between them.  John reminds the Jews that he has already proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah, and not himself.  John knows the role he plays in the Kingdom of God and is humble in celebrating with all of his followers the wonderful gift given to the world in Jesus of Nazareth.  Even though they are not competing, John plays the role of the gracious loser, celebrating the power and position of Jesus.

Today chances are each of us will have successes and failures.  Most likely we will win some and lose some, because that is what it means to be human.  Others will be lifted up and we will be diminished, and vice versa.  The question is how will we react?  Will we celebrate the success of others?  Will we allow ourselves to see the goodness and the "God-like"ness in those we lose to?  Or will we try and use healthy competition to divide and conquer?  Will we be a good winner or a poor loser?

The truth is life is not always a competition.  However, when we find that we are in healthy competition, there is always character development.  Competition is a blessed gift God has given.

Thanks be to God for the gift of Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ.  In whom we are saved from our sins and made right with God.  "For this reason my joy has been fulfilled. He must increase, but I must decrease."  Thanks be to God!


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