Meghan Rutledge had a comfortable lead approaching the last jump, turn, and stretch of the women’s X-Games motocross 12-lap race. She accelerated into the jump, launched into the sky, and began pumping her fist victoriously as she sailed through the air. Doing so caused the front of the bike to tip forward. She then landed awkwardly, lost control, and crashed. In the blink of an eye, three other racers passed her on the final stretch and she went from certain victory to a meager fourth place.
How heartbreaking! As the announcers said so well, Meghan Rutledge went “from the pinnacle of joy to the depths of defeat” (ibid). The worst part about the whole situation is that it was completely her own fault. She let pride step in the way before she had actually achieved victory.
In 1 Kings 20:11, the king of Israel responded to his prideful enemy with a wise taunt, “Let not him who girds on his armor boast like him who takes it off.” In other words, one should never claim victory before he has achieved it. In battle, those who had the privilege to take their armor off were typically the victors of the war. Meghan Rutledge was boating of victory and it ironically caused her defeat. In this case, pride literally came before the fall (Proverbs 16:18).
Jesus said in Revelation 2:10 that those who are “faithful until death will receive the crown of life.” These are people who finish the race and live godly lives until the end. Some feel their place in heaven is already secured and arrogantly try to coast in with their remaining time in life (1 Corinthians 10:12). It only takes a moment for our pride to get out of check and cause us to fall. May we never think we have won the spiritual race before we cross the finish line.
Let’s learn from Meghan Rutledge’s mistake. Let’s always keep our pride in check and never celebrate any victory before we have actually achieved it.