Game On!

by Dr. Bruce Hebel

by Dr. Bruce Hebel

I grew up extremely competitive. Whatever game I played, I wanted to – no – I needed to win. Whether it was a pick-up game of basketball or just a game of Rook on a tour bus, I had to win. My competitiveness extended to the teams that I followed. I used to go into a three-day fog whenever the Dallas Cowboys lost. I hated to lose.

As I moved into college, marriage, Grad school, and ministry life, I begin encountering things that I couldn’t always win. I found that the intensity required to “win” kept me from enjoying the game and made me unpleasant to be around. As I grew deeper in my understanding of the spiritual life, I realized that my version of the competitive spirit was somewhat incompatible with the humility in Christ’s life. So, for the most part, I stopped playing competitive games to avoid the “catch-22” I had found myself in. (I’m not saying that it was the best strategy or one I recommend to others, but it is what I did.) I still wanted be the best I could be. I still watched March Madness! I just wasn’t going to personally compete with people anymore.

Yet, I missed the competition. I often pondered why God created the competitive nature if we weren’t supposed to compete. Then the other day I came across Romans 12:10b in the ESV; “Outdo one another in showing honor.” Really? Are we to aggressively compete to honor other people better than anybody else? Are we really commanded to try to “win” at going low? AWESOME!

Honor is a big deal in the Bible. The list of people we are to honor includes … wait for it… everyone!  I Peter 2:17 says “Honor ALL men.” Putting it simply, the candidates for us to honor are every single person we meet.

          To honor means to ascribe worth, dignity, and value to someone.

          Honor looks past someone’s outward flaws to see their inner worth.

          Honor results in the honoree being elevated in the eyes of the community.

You may be thinking, “Some people just don’t deserve honor.” No argument there. But isn’t it true that every single one of us, at our core, is capable of unspeakable things? We’ve all messed up, but God loves us anyway! In fact, we are so valuable to Him that He sent Jesus to deal with our sin so we could be united with Him. If God could honor me when I didn’t deserve it, how can I withhold honor from anyone else? 

          Honor is bestowed not earned.

          Honor knows that everyone is created in the image of God - with intrinsic worth!

          Honor separates the person from their action because the person is valued more than their behavior.

          Honor sees the wonder of God in the individual and builds esteem into them.

         Honor trusts…  in God.

Honor says: “God loves you. God wants to redeem and restore you in spite of how bad you think you are or what you have done. I agree with God. I’m trusting God for you, in you, and through you until I am trusting God with you. You are not expendable and you are not disposable. I will not give up on you because God hasn’t given up on either one of us.”

My competitive fires are burning again! My new game is to be the best ever at honoring other people. Are you ready to compete? Bring it on! And you better bring your “A” game because I have no intention of letting anyone outdo me in showing honor!

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Amy Smithwick