This coming Sunday many will gather to watch Super Bowl 55 played from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Florida. I am a Missouri girl, so I guess you know which team I will be rooting for!
Ironically, I have loved the game of football since I was a young teen, and my friend’s family invited me to my first professional football game at the home of the Kansas City Chiefs. Before life with my own family was so busy, I enjoyed playing fantasy football. Then I thoroughly enjoyed watching my son play the game in high school. Since I am such a visual learner, I love to apply the basic concepts of the game to drive some especially important spiritual points.
From a spiritual perspective, I often find myself praying the word, “Contend”. There have been many times I have received important revelations from God where the word “contend” is involved. If we consider the definition of this word, it states:
- To strive in opposition or against difficulties; struggle
- To strive in competition, as in a race1
When we consider these definitions, one can easily relate this word to those players who will play in the very prestigious game on Sunday. The very basics of the game are all about contending.
Those amazing athletes CONTEND for every single yard as they inch down the field toward the goal line. It is also important to realize that once they push through the obstacles to reach a particular line, they then have to DEFEND so they do not lose that forward progress.
Down the field they go, contending and defending a minimum of ten yards at a time. Sometimes with great effort only progressing ten yards with every three-four attempts, and sometimes with great ease when there is an opening for a quick runner or a wide-open receiver to catch the pass.
Unfortunately, there are also times that the attempts for forward movement are simply blocked. The opposition is too great for the desired breakthrough. It is also possible that the quarterback is sacked, or the runner is pushed back and ground is lost.
Isn’t this a great analogy of our spiritual walk? Every day we contend for forward momentum in our spiritual maturity as we grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some days it takes great effort and somedays there is more ease. There are also times when we are sacked with a hard hit that knocks us off course and causes us to seemingly lose ground. Other times the obstacles and opposition are so great that we cannot seem to break through.
Jude 3:3b NASU says: “…I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.“
The word “contend” from this passage in the original language is epagoonizesthai.
“epagoonizesthai – is one of those words used by the sacred writers, which have allusion to the Grecian games. This word does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. It means ‘to contend upon’ – i.e., ‘for or about’ anything; and would be applicable to the earnest effort put forth in those games to obtain the prize.”2
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 9:24-25 NASU: “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win.”
Both of these scriptures encourage us to contend in our spiritual life the way these men will contend in Sunday’s big game….CONTEND TO WIN!
I often see individuals who contend, but they are not successful to defend the ground that they take. The helmet is a critical part of the uniform in the game of football. It is also a vital part of the Christian Armor! In Ephesians 6:17, you can read about the helmet of salvation. Our salvation gives us access to our identity in Christ and to the promises of God. This helmet is the protection for our mind, which is essential to defend the ground we contend to obtain.
Let me ask you a difficult question. Are you contending or are you pretending? The battles we have been fighting can cause us to push harder or back off. I can assure you that none of the players who are privileged enough to play in Sunday’s game will be pretending. Shouldn’t we walk out our spiritual life with the same intensity? Do not let the opposition cause you to be sidelined. Focused on the goal and determine to win the prize!
1. Contend. 2021. In The Free Dictionary by Farlex. Retrieved from www.thefreedictionary.com/Contend 2/3/2021
2. Barnes’ Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003, 2005, 2006 by Biblesoft, Inc.