What will you do to win? What will you do to reach the goals you’ve set? Some read those questions and immediately think, “I’ll do anything. I’ll work as hard as I need to.” But that’s not what I’m talking about.

Those questions dig deeper than work ethic and playing hard because there are some who will literally do anything to win.

Here are three examples.

They load up their team while still “technically” staying within the rules. Whether it’s the use of a false address, lying about an age, saying a player’s dad is a “coach” when he lives somewhere else, ignoring playing time rules, etc. You could make your own list of things you’ve seen. All the while, they shrug and say they’ve done nothing wrong. Perhaps by the letter of the law, they are clean, but they have put winning above anything else.

They play dirty. Blocking bases, faking tags, sliding with spikes high to injure another player, taking a cheap shot when the umpires aren’t looking. Again, they shrug, saying they’ve done nothing wrong. We know better.

They are petty. I once witnessed a guy try to protest a game because his team wasn’t given a water cooler in the dugout. I recently heard of players being made to play in short sleeves (in barely-above-freezing weather) because their sleeves didn’t all match. Coaches who promote such petty things claim they are just playing by the rules. Please.

Here’s what God says in Proverbs 20:17–“Bread obtained by falsehood is sweet to a man, but afterward his mouth will be filled with gravel.”

What does that mean?

Those who win at all costs have all the reward they’ll ever receive. It’s like the stolen bread in the proverb. It’s sweet on the front end. They celebrate their victories. They laugh behind closed doors. But…

Those who win at all costs eventually pay the price. Sometimes, it’s clear to everyone. For example, some programs have been forced to vacate wins. In other cases, it’s subtle…those players and coaches slowly but surely alienate themselves from those they wanted to impress as their deceit becomes evident. Ultimately, it’s not hidden from God. It was Jesus who said that it’s a shame to see people who will do anything to win on earth while ignoring and forfeiting their souls for eternity. Some reward.

Three commitments to make in light of this:

I will see things from an eternal perspective. Meaning, I will recognize that winning a baseball game is a small thing, relative to why I’m really here.

I will teach those who follow me that integrity matters more than winning. This is tough. I love to win and I hate to lose. But, I believe God will only hold me accountable for how I won or lost, not whether I won or lost.

I will get people to hold me accountable. If left to myself, odds are I will do anything to win. Because of that, I need people who will tell me I’m compromising God’s honor if I’m thinking about winning at all costs.

Lord Jesus, make sin like gravel in my mouth. Thank you for loving me for who I am, not whether I win or lose. Amen.