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No Man Left Behind

Philippians 2:3, 5
Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus.

The gun was fired, the contestants sprang off their starting blocks, and the Special Olympics was under way. This particular event would be special for more reasons than one; it was unique because the runners raced down the track side by side, shoulder-to-shoulder. No one tried to move ahead—no one was allowed to fall behind. All the runners ran at a pace that allowed every one of them to be even. What happened next makes the story all the more remarkable. As these runners with intellectual disabilities (many with Down syndrome) raced around the track, one of the athletes stumbled and fell. When the other contestants realized what had happened, without any communication among themselves, they all stopped, turned around, and jogged back to their fallen friend. They picked her up, comforted her, and then—like Marines in combat: “No man left behind”—off they ran toward the finish line. No one came in first place—they all did!

What a moving sight to all those in the viewing stands. In fact, it must have left everyone feeling quite convicted. I know I was, just by reading the story—I can’t imagine what it was like for those who actually witnessed this selfless act firsthand. This is exactly the kind of unselfish behavior which the Apostle Paul described to the Philippian believers. He reminded them that Jesus Christ set the ultimate example of humility by giving up His divine rights and privileges to join the human race. His selflessness and sacrifice on our behalf are unspeakably precious. But Paul wasn’t content to just announce the amazing attribute of Christ’s humility; he urged us to adopt and apply the same attitude. Just as Christ came to us and lifted us up, so we should serve one another. A competitive spirit within the body of Christ simply isn’t compatible with serving others.

Christians aren’t running against each other but alongside each other. If anything, we should be helping each other make it to the finish line for the glory of Christ. We can learn from the example of a few tenderhearted Special Olympians. Christianity is a team sport; we’re all in a race together where every Christian wins.