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I was dreaming of ‘Dear Delights’ (Costly Rejoicing): Donald Trump was graciously celebrating Hilary Clinton becoming President; Mark Warburton warmly shaking Brendan Rogers hand to congratulate him winning the Scottish Cup; Pope Francis embracing Moderator Russell Barr, overjoyed at spiritual breakthrough in The Church of Scotland; Neil Urquhart beaming, from ear to ear, over revival in another Irvine church and the booming success of the brand new Fullarton Community Association’s ‘Hub’. The dream continued: Killie supporters were applauding Ayr Utd’s plucky victory over them in The Cup!! Irvine Meadow fans jubilant at the courageous fight-back of Irvine Vic’s, coming from 3 – 0 down to win 4 – 3 with the last kick of the game!!! And the editors of Irvine’s two rival papers openly congratulating each other on their respective successes.

 

Some of these scenarios may seem highly unlikely, but each describe a maturity of the human spirit which Jesus Christ leads us in. Are there only two types of losers: good losers and those can’t act?

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Fellow Shoes Brother, Father Willie Boyd, and I were recording our bi-weekly programme ‘Soul Sunday’ (Sunday, 9.30am Irvine Beat FM 107.2), ‘Success’ our topic. We realised that society’s definition of ‘success’ is often one which ‘rejoices in one’s own winning, overcoming, improving, harvesting, etc’. Whereas God’s eternal, loving community (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), revels in the other’s success and the greater good. Willie lost at golf on the last hole, in which he and his partner had led until the very last. Those who know Willie know what a tough competitor he is, ‘In It, To Win It!” his mantra, yet he described how his deflation at losing was soon overcome by the ebullient (almost gloating) joy of his opponents. He was able to see its beauty and join their rejoicing, if a little stung too. Marvellous!

 

This is perhaps foreign to the competitive among us, indeed I don’t find it easy, ‘to rejoice in another’s joy at my expense’. Might it not water down competitiveness and eradicate the necessary edge for lively contest? I think the key lies in learning from The Master, who gave the Pharisees a right good tanning from time to time. The Master who ‘forgives at his own costly expense’ and teaches us to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep’, even at our own ‘pricey cost’ (cf. Hebrews 12:2). He teaches a way of ‘dying to self(ishness) and rising to generosity of life in Him’. He shows us the ability ‘to love God with our all and our neighbour as we love self’ – indeed the original meaning of competition, from the Latin ‘competere’ literally means ‘to strive together’.

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In Hebrews 10 we’re enjoined ‘to spur one another on towards love and good deeds’  Thanks Willie, my sparring, spurring partner!

“Lord Jesus, I find myself in the deep waters of your Spirit, a wee boy in your towering, gracious and godly presence. I want to be like you. Teach me to see, beyond my own failures and successes, the learning and joy of others, that together we may grow up into the life and living of your glorious, loving Trinity. Amen!”