«He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly. . . He will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure» (Isaiah 33:15, 16).
I learned of Abel Mutai and Iván Fernández’s story when Elias Peiró, a co-worker of mine, mentioned it during worship in the publishing house where we work. Mutai thought he had won a race so he relaxed, slowed down, and began waving to spectators. Realizing Mutai was not aware he hadn’t crossed the finish line yet, Iván Fernández started shouting at him to keep on running. Since Mutai could not understand Spanish, Fernández pushed him so that he would win the race.
Iván could have taken advantage of Mutai’s oversight and won first place—after all, they were competing. Everyone was wondering: Why did he do it? This was his answer: «Even if they had told me that by winning I would get a spot on the Spanish team for the European tournament, I would not have taken advantage of him. I think doing what I did is better than having won. And this is very important, because these days, the way things are in every area—in football, society, politics—where it seems like everything honest has lost its value, a gesture of honesty is very welcome.»
This Spanish athlete is an example that, on this earth’s rough paths, there are still people who consider honesty is valuable. Ivån Fernåndez gave us a great example of what it means to walk in integrity and do justice. He didn’t take advantage of his neighbor, but rather helped him win.
The prophet Isaiah wrote a beautiful poem in which he mentions the kind of people God expects us to be:
He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, he who despises the gain of oppressions, who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed, and shuts his eyes from seeing evil: he will dwell on high; his place of defense will be the fortress of rocks; bread will be given him, his water will be sure (Isaiah 33:15, 16).
Are we that kind of person? Perhaps we can’t win a sports medal here on earth, but if in our daily lives we act the way Iván Fernández did, our medal will be awarded to us «on high,» in heaven itself.