The phenomenon of swimmer Michael Phelps has added dazzle to the Beijing Olympics. This young man has captured the admiration of the world with his physical prowess and his good-natured attitude. Winning 8 gold medals and holding the record for the most gold medals in history has added a touch of the surreal to his image. Now everyone wants to be close to the winner — the advertisers, his hometown, the press, etc.

That’s exactly the way it was in ancient times. The winner at the games was declared divine; the people sometimes prayed to him. When the emperor placed the laurel wreath on his head, it signified the ultimate accomplishment.

Everyone loves a winner. It touches something deep inside us to watch someone achieve a great victory. We want to glory in it, enjoy the thrill by proxy, absorb the glow emanating from the hero.

The apostle Paul used the games to illustrate the race of the Christian life. He refers to the crown which the Lord will give to all those who love His appearing. Winning in that game has eternal rewards.

Having gold placed around your neck and watching the Stars and Stripes being raised must be a moment that defies words. Having gold placed on your head and hearing “Well done, good and faithful servant” will be a moment that defines true glory.

Winners are meant for gold — both now and hereafter.

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