Devotional: ‘The Applause of Heaven’      

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Have you ever wished that you were an Olympic athlete competing in honor of your country? I do every time I watch the Olympics. I’m not sure which would be the greatest thrill – to receive the gold medal or to stand on the podium as they play our country’s national anthem. Recently, I read a very inspiring story about the Winter Olympics of 1964. Let me share it with you.

The two-man bobsled team from Britain had just completed its first run and was in second place. As they were preparing for their next run, they made a terrible discovery; a part of their bobsled was disabled due to a broken bolt. Unable to make a second run, they would be disqualified and out of the competition.

But at the bottom of the hill, one of the world’s leading bobsledders, Eugenio Monti of Italy, heard of the problem and had a bolt removed from his sled and loaned it to Team Britain. The British team fixed their sled and went on to win the gold medal. Monti’s team finished third.

When someone asked Eugenio Monti about his act of selflessness he replied, “Tony Nash of the Britain did not win because I gave him a bolt. He won because he was the best driver.” However, many recognized that Monti did something few would have done and he was awarded what many Olympians consider to be the highest honor. He was awarded the De Coubertin Medal for Sportsmanship.

Don’t be selfish; don’t try to impress others. Be humble, thinking of others as better than yourselves. Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too. You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had. Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross. Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor and gave him the name above all other names, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:3-11 NLT)

None of us will ever compete in the Olympics. None of us will ever stand on the top podium and have an Olympic gold medal hung around our neck and hear them play the Star Spangled Banner. Yet each of us are in a race and we are encouraged to run to win. The award we seek is called Christlikeness, the race we run is life, and our greatest competition is self. In order to win, we must deny self, take up our cross and follow Him.

I can’t imagine what it must feel like to know that you have won an Olympic Gold Medal for your country, but I am sure that the trill of that moment will be nothing in comparison to the applause of heaven!

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