23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."
Colossians 3:23 (ESV)
In soccer, it’s the last five minutes before each half; in football, it’s the fourth quarter; in track, it’s the last “kick” as you hit the straight-away.
Each sport has its “last moments” or waning minutes that are critical to success. Often games are won or lost in those moments: the drive down the entire court for the last second buzzer beater, the two-minute drill, the final push in those last 50 meters.
Paul, writing to the church in Colossae, encouraged them to work at their best, with everything they had, to pursue excellence in their freedom in Christ: “Whatever you do, work at it wholeheartedly as though you were doing it for the Lord and not merely for people” (Colossians 3:23, NIV).
Excellence is not perfection, but competing, playing, living to the fullest, competing to the final whistle. It is giving your all, no matter who is watching or what the circumstances. It’s not going half way and stopping, or looking back and reveling in your lead.
Athlete, anyone can start, and there are many who get half way and even three quarters of the way. But those who finish well create a habit of excellence. Vince Lombardi said, “The quality of a person’s life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.”
Our character, our outward expression, is a visible response to an inward belief. When we know who we are in Christ – our identity – we have the freedom to live the life we are called to live. We don’t have to look over our shoulders or keep an eye on someone in the stands, or wonder if we are good enough.
You are not comparing yourself to others and their performances. You are not basing your value and acceptance on the opinions of others. But rather, you are being given the opportunity to compete and work wholeheartedly for the Father whose love is unconditional.
Reflect: Athlete, what does it look like to work, train and live wholeheartedly, with excellence to the final whistle, solely for the Lord?