Mel Shultz is a Jewish believer who started following Jesus in 1969. An evangelist at Arizona State University shared the gospel with him, then a young pastor took him under his wing. Mel became a businessman and a Bible teacher. He has served the Lord ever since.

As Mel’s businesses thrived, he became part owner of the Phoenix Suns and the Arizona Diamondbacks. When he first came to Living Streams, Mel was recovering from several surgeries. We got together and enjoyed talking about the Lord, the Word, business, and sports.

Mel had played a lot of golf before his accident, but the first time we played nine holes, he had not been on a course for months. He shot two under par, ten strokes better than me.

Over the next several years, we played golf many times, and Mel would beat me easily. Last spring, we were playing nine holes and our match was close. I was playing well, while he was distracted by phone calls. On several occasions, as my ball headed toward the hole, Mel was cheering, “Go in! Go in!” I sank a few long putts and edged him by one stroke.

When I saw Mel with his sons Tom and Ben at a restaurant the next week, he smiled and said, “Mark beat me last week!” In case you don’t know me well, I should admit two things. First, if you ever saw me in competition, the chances are good that the words you heard were not me rooting for the other guy. Second, if the other guy beat me, the chances are good that I didn’t tell people about it.

I have also played golf with Tom and Ben. They have the same spirit as their dad. They root for their opponents to make good shots. They cheer when their competitor’s putt drops into the hole. They too share the news if their friends win. They compete to win, but they have a higher priority. They want their friends to thrive. The joy of their friends is as important to them as the satisfaction of a victory.

So what’s the big deal since most of the world could care less about golf? Mel and his sons have given me a glimpse into the heart of our Father and the love of true brothers. Jesus intercedes for us at the right hand of God. He intercedes for our success. He is cheering for us and he wants us to root for each another.

When I competed with my children, I tried to win, but I also was happy when they became good enough to beat me. That’s pretty common for parents, because we love our children and want them to surpass us. It is a lot harder to root for the church down the street, or the success of your friends when they are competing with you.

When we love one another enough to rejoice in each other’s success, we fulfill Jesus’ words, “My command is this; Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) When we pray for each other, we are sending spiritual cheers to heaven that rebound into the souls of those we pray for. Our prayers lift people up with grace and strength so they can triumph in life. I receive a lot of grace when faithful friends pray for me. That’s why I’m sending this with a prayer for you.