"If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying to win."

Said [NFL's AFC Defensive Player of the Year in 2011, Terrell] Suggs, "If you ain't cheating, you ain't trying to win."  (USA Today Article)

Is this a representation of sports today?  Is this a representation of our culture today, even beyond professional sports?  Though the media has much to say about the use of PEDs (performance enhancing drugs) , the spotlight implies that these are anomalies.  If we examine the root of what causes an athlete to use PEDs, we may find parallels in everyday events that require each of us to more closely scrutinize our integrity.

Suggs' was asked about his response to an opposing coach who stood in the field of play and may have prevented Suggs' teammate from scoring a touchdown.  But his statement may, as easily, apply to any situation where humans compete against other humans.  In academia, students race against students in the context of the dreaded curve.  In the workplace, performance evaluations allow room for only one or two stars.  In order to succeed, one must wonder whether their competitors are crossing the lines.  One must be willing to push, if not cross, boundaries to have a chance to succeed.  For athletes, the boundaries come in the form of "vitamins" or "sports cremes."  Students hire "tutors" who help to "edit" their essays.  Workers, who are eager to claim credit, prove less forthcoming when things go wrong.

In a world where person competes against person, people get hurt.  People cut corners.  Trying to win does require cheating.  After all, the ends justify the means, right?  Perhaps, that's the crux of the issue.  Rather than looking at the means (i.e. cheating), we ought to examine the ends (i.e. winning).  Instead of seeking to win over man, we ought to please God.  As the Apostle Peter taught, "Whoever speaks, let it be with God’s words. Whoever serves, do so with the strength that God supplies, so that in everything God will be glorified through Jesus Christ."  (1Pe 4:11, NET)  When we consistent seek God's will, we no longer need to concern ourselves with what others are doing.  In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard (Mt 20:1-16), Jesus taught that we will each be rewarded individually.  Final judgment will not be graded on a curve where our performance is judged against another's.

WHOM do you Thank?

"Thank You" -- such a simple phrase and yet so easy to take for granted.  Our son, Luke, has a generous nature.  He's often buying things for his little sister.  Her "thank yous" are all the "payment" he needs.  There's something magical when someone expresses their gratitude.  Now, imagine the difference if she dropped the "you."  Imagine how Luke feels if she just said, "This toy you bought for me makes me feel thankful."

I love this season of Thanksgiving.  We unashamedly gather together with family, friends, and loved ones to express thanks for our many blessings.  Though I wish each day was a day of thanksgiving, one day or one month is still better than none at all.  However, as we count our blessings, let us remember whom we're thanking.  Certainly, we're not sitting around the turkey saying, "I feel good about...." family, friends, love, career, etc.  No, we gather with our loved ones so that we can thank the grantor of those gifts...our Lord in heaven, the You we thank.