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Holy Sweat

We also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him.
–2 Corinthians 5:9

Legendary football coach Vince Lombardi once put into writing his philosophy of coaching. His credo, called “What It Takes to Be Number One,” hangs in locker rooms all across the country today. It reads, in part: “Winning is not a sometime thing; it’s an all the time thing. You don’t win once in a while; you don’t do things right once in a while; you do them right all of the time. Winning is a habit. . . . I firmly believe that any man’s finest hour–his greatest fulfillment to all he holds dear–is that moment when he has worked his heart out in a good cause and lies exhausted on the field of battle–victorious.”

Few people have that kind of passionate commitment. As the adage says, “It’s lonely at the top, but it’s crowded at the bottom.” Most people aren’t willing to pay the price to succeed in life. You need to have determination if you’re going to win. And what is true in the athletic world is also true in the spiritual life. If we are going to succeed in the Christian life, it takes a healthy dose of discontent, determination, and discipline.

The apostle Paul had his own credo. Paul’s goal in life was not to finish this life only. He expressed his goal in 2 Corinthians 5:9-10: “We also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” For Paul, the finish line was not death. The finish line for Paul was that time when he would stand before the judgment seat of Christ, and more than anything he wanted to hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” That ought to be the goal of our lives. Whether we are here or in heaven, our ambition should be to be pleasing to Christ.

Paul not only had a worthy goal, but he also had a specific game plan to reach that goal. This week, we will look at that game plan for having outrageous joy and succeeding in life. What does it take to win in the Christian life? What does it take to live above your circumstances and maintain outrageous joy? To put it bluntly, it takes holy sweat.

Before we dig into Paul’s game plan for succeeding in the Christian life, I’m going to give you one sentence that summarizes what we’re going to learn in Philippians 3. It’s very simple. Paul is going to say that while human effort is useless for our justification, it is essential for our sanctification. In other words, our game plan for outrageous joy is to become more like Christ.


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Holy Sweat” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2007.

Vince Lombardi, “What It Takes to Be Number One,”

Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.


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