Vince Lombardi, the legendary coach of the Green Bay Packers, is famous for saying, “Winning isn’t everything—it’s the only thing.”
That was definitely my philosophy when I was growing up. From the time I was a small boy, I loved to win and absolutely detested losing. I used to get downright upset over a lost game of marbles!
Later, it was Little League games, swimming and ultimately, flying in the military. Whatever I was involved in—I wanted to be a winner at it.
I don’t think I’m unusual in that respect. I believe most people in our society (at least in secular society) want to be winners.
With believers, it’s another story. Somehow many Christians have been conditioned to believe that winning is not a valid goal for them. They’re convinced that winning is unimportant at best and positively unbiblical at worst!
If that’s what you’ve been told, I have news for you. God created you to win, not just spiritually, but in your relationships, your finances, your profession and every other area of life.
I’ll go one step further. If you’re not at least in the process of becoming that kind of winner, you’re not fulfilling God’s whole purpose for your life. And you’re missing out on the contentment and sense of fulfillment God wants you to have.
“That’s a pretty strong statement, Pastor Mac. Can you back it up with Scripture?” You bet I can.
In Genesis 1:26-27 God says: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over…all the earth…. So God created man in his own image….”
Would you agree that God is a winner? If we are made in His image and likeness, then redeemed man must be designed to be a winner, too.
In fact, after God made Adam and Eve, He commanded them to go win! Look at the very next verse, Genesis 1:28: “And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion….”
God’s very first marching orders to mankind were “subdue” and “have dominion.” In other words, “Go out there and win!”
Likewise, as a born-again, restored child of God, you are to exercise dominion over your world. That means every aspect of daily living—every circumstance in your life—should be in subjection to God.
Let’s get practical. It’s one thing to know that God wants you to be a winner. It’s another thing to know how to become one.
Thankfully, God has given us His Word to guide us and great men of faith to be our examples. Philippians is a book about winning, written by a winner—the Apostle Paul. What is it that made Paul such an outstanding winner? We find the answer to that question in Philippians 3:12-14:
Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Look again at that last phrase. I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God. A powerful prescription for victory, it contains four terms that represent the keys to finding and fulfilling God’s destiny for your life. They are “press,” “mark,” “prize” and “high calling.”
The winning life isn’t a casual stroll. It’s a press.
We’ve heard this term used frequently concerning very spiritual matters. We’ve been urged to “press in to prayer” or “press in to the Word.” And certainly we need to press toward those things. But we mustn’t stop there.
Our life is comprised of more than spiritual things. Among others, there is a press to make relationships work, a press to keep your body healthy and a press to succeed in business. These are areas that have very natural or physical components to them.
Life itself is a press—a determined movement toward a goal or ideal. Paul knew that. He was a winner because he knew what to press toward—“the mark for the prize of the high calling of God.”
What is the prize of the high calling of God? In a nutshell, it is life—eternal life.
The Greek word the New Testament uses to describe this kind of life is zoe. It is a word that refers to the very life of God Himself. And God’s Word says you have that life inside of you if you’re a born-again believer.
Too often, we think of eternal life as beginning in heaven. But that’s simply not the case. Our eternal life has already begun. It is here and now.
Furthermore, zoe refers to a quality of life as well as a “forever” length of life. It literally means, life as God has it.
Does God experience sickness, poverty, strife-filled relationships, unforgiveness or bitterness? Of course not.
I realize it may seem almost sacrilegious to your natural mind, yet that kind of life—the life of God Himself—is the prize Paul is talking about. That’s the prize God has made available to us, not just in heaven but right here on earth. It can be ours now!
The High Calling of God
To really experience the fullness of zoe life this side of heaven, you’ll have to lay hold of God’s high calling. What is that high calling? It’s different for each of us.
Basically, your high calling is God’s perfect will for your life. It is your divine destiny. It’s being in the place for which He uniquely created you.
Please understand, I’m talking about much more here than just finding the right career. God’s high calling touches every area of your existence. Certainly it involves your vocation, but it also includes your relationships, your health and your material wealth as well.
God’s high calling is a wonderful place to be. It is a place of all-sufficiency. It is a place of great influence. It is a place of supernatural health and harmonious relationships.
Most of all, reaching God’s high calling means realizing and living the dream that He has placed in your heart.
That dream may be crystal clear to you. Or it may be only a vague idea stirring in your heart. But don’t worry! As long as you are moving in the right direction, you’ll eventually find your high calling. So just look for “the mark” and go.
In many respects, the concept of “the mark” is the most important of all in Paul’s statement about “pressing toward the mark of the high calling.”
Notice that Paul didn’t say, “I press toward the prize.” Nor did he say he was pressing toward the high calling. No, it is the mark that he has his sights set on, but why?
The mark, as Paul describes it here, is an intermediate goal or objective. If you’ll focus on it and move toward it, it will keep you on course.
If you know anything about bowling, you know that each lane has on it a series of marks that lie just a few feet in front of the bowler. Good bowlers use these marks to aim their ball so it ultimately strikes the pins in the proper place. The bowler doesn’t aim at the pins—he focuses on the mark.
That’s what Paul is talking about here. You may not yet know what your high calling is. The dream God has placed in your heart may not be well-defined enough for you to know what to do next. But, praise God, His Word has given us a mark to press toward. Head for that mark and ultimately God’s dream or “high calling” for you will come into view.
The Mark: Service
There is one interesting thing about this “mark.” It is the same for all of us no matter how widely our individual callings may vary. It is a universal signpost that will put all who follow it on the pathway of the winner.
What is this mark that we must press toward? In a word, it is servanthood.
Jesus, the ultimate Winner, established that with His words and with His example. Remember when the disciples were arguing about who among them was the greatest? Jesus told them that the greatest among them was he who would be the servant of all. Later He demonstrated that principle by washing their feet.
Service is the key to becoming a winner. It’s the mark by which we should measure every decision, every action and every thought.
The problem is, many of us have a negative stereotypical image of what a servant is. We equate servanthood with slavery and forced servitude. We think the role of the servant is degrading and certainly not something we equate with winning.
But if you’re going to win the prize of true “zoe life,” you’re going to have to change the way you think about servanthood. You’re going to have to realize that it is the way of the winner.
The more you press toward the mark of service, the more you’ll find yourself moving into God’s marvelous zoe life. Your every step will bring you closer to the center of God’s will because, at last, you’ll be walking the way of the winner!
*Article taken from February 2015 issue of BVOV Magazine. Read the PDF version here.