This week's devotional is from Pastor Ben Kerns.
These are, perhaps, five of the most iconic words of the film industry. They are spoken by Terry, the lead character and a promising prizefighter, during an argument with his “mob-owned” brother in the 1954 movie, “On The Waterfront”. The reason for the impassioned dispute? Instead of encouraging him to face tough opponents and win, Charlie sets up fights where Terry would take dives, then get paid a portion of the money collected on the bets Charlie placed on him to lose.
Many (most) reading this already know those now famous words by well-known actor, Marlon Brando. “You don't understand. I coulda had class. I coulda been a contender. I coulda been somebody, instead of a bum, which is what I am...”
Interesting juxtaposition, isn’t it? A respected contender, or a nobody - a somebody, or a bum. As do all illustrations and comparisons, this one falls short of being perfect, but it’s not far from the mark when it aligns the willingness to get into the ring and contend with an opponent and the idea of winning respect along with the other fruits of victory.
Sort of reminds me of another great film where, leading up to the 1924 Olympic games, elite runner Harold Abrahams says to his girlfriend after losing a race for the first time in his life (to Eric Liddell), “If I can’t win, I won’t run.”
Her response was nothing short of brilliant, “If you won’t run, you can’t win.” As if to say that the first, and perhaps most important, step toward winning the prize is the willingness to seek it – fight for it – contend.
Read I Timothy 6:11-16 and II Timothy 4:5-8
- Wherever you see the word “fight” (as in, “fight the good fight”) note that it’s the same word used in Colossians 1 & 2 but translated, “contend”.
- What insights might some of the surrounding references and specifics in those two Timothy letters give you when thinking about the “what, why, and how” of contending?
- What strong opponents are you tempted to surrender to instead of facing and “contending” with them in your life and faith?
BE A BLESSING
- Read Colossians 1:24-2:5 and notice how much Paul’s motivation to “contend” was connected to the blessing his effort could be to others.
- Who might be directly “blessed” were you to “contend” for them. Pray that this potential blessing would become and continue to be your primary motivation as you “fight” for them.
MAY IT BE THAT, IN THE RETROSPECTIVE YEARS OF YOUR LIFE, YOU ARE ABLE TO LOOK BACK AND SAY NOT THAT ONLY THAT YOU COULD HAVE BEEN A CONTENDER, BUT THAT YOU ACTUALLY WERE ONE!