“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with mutual affection; outdo one another in showing honor.” – Romans 12: 9
The difference between a good competition and an evil one is in its objective. When it comes to showing honor, everybody has a chance to win. There is no limit to the honor that can be shown. But if the competition is for test scores or other belittlements, watch out. You aren’t outdoing one another in showing honor. You are just outdoing each other. Honor is the victim of the small.
Consider one of those tests we make children take. Multiple choice is a crazy way to learn. Everyone with a grain of attention knows that choices are not limited to a, b or c. Honor often involves “d,” the selection that is not on the page of the test.
Or consider the way most of us are taught sports. We hear the cliché: “It is not about whether you win or lose but how you play the game.” And then we watch the parents in the soccer stand scream for victory, at each other.
If we love competition, as many of us do, we can compete for our personal best, which is another kind of victory. That victory multiplies the choices and honors our humanity.
Genuine Good God, you who hate what is evil and hold fast to what is good, draw near and help us make multiple choices in honorable ways. Amen.
Donna Schaper is Senior Minister at Judson Memorial Church in New York City. Her latest book is Prayers for People Who Say They Can’t Pray.