Here’s the difference knowing God makes: when I encounter the eternal, almighty, infinite, and merciful God, something changes in my heart. My attention turns away from myself and toward this glorious God. I walk onto the field much less likely to brag, jockey for attention, or try to win others’ admiration. Every play, every inning, every race becomes an opportunity to draw attention to God.
That’s what we call worship. And this is why worshiping God isn’t just something we do in church. It’s something we do in all of life, including our sports.
So 1 Corinthians 10:31 tells us something very important about our sports. Here’s what this verse says to us:
To bring glory to God as athletes, we play sports in a way that draws attention to God’s greatness instead of our own.
This involves much more than kneeling in the end zone or pointing to the sky. You see, too often Christian athletes participate in sports without understanding the potential sports have for God’s glory. We let culture, rather than Scripture, define our priorities and passions. We’re all vulnerable to this. Here are some sure signs of misdirected priorities:
- We have no higher purpose than winning.
- We are more concerned about improving athletic skill than growing in godliness.
- We use sports to glorify ourselves, rather than glorifying God through godly actions.
Sadly, it is possible to devote massive amounts of time to sports while failing to grow in humility, perseverance, self-control, diligence, and other qualities appropriate to a follower of Christ. But if you search Scripture for what it says is truly important, you won’t find athletic gifting, personal stats, championship trophies, or even a win-loss column. Scripture’s emphasis is clearly on the glory of God, as revealed in the gospel, and on our imitation of his character. And as Christians, we must adopt Scripture’s priorities.
This is not to say that athletic skill doesn’t matter. It is important. But it’s not most important. Athletic ability and achievements must be secondary; playing sports to the glory of God must be primary. And that means every time we step onto the field, our priority will be to worship God, apply the gospel to our hearts, and become more like Christ.
So what does this actually look like? What does it mean to worship God and imitate Christ at tip-off, at halftime, in the fourth inning or the fourth quarter? What does it look like when my team is way ahead—or way behind?
This is where things get very practical. We’ve studied the plays; now we’re going to run them. We’re moving from the locker room to the playing field. Ready? We’ll be back after a short time out.
- Sports At Their Best—And Worst
- What Are Sports Really For?
- Meeting God Before the Opening Tip
- Play to the Glory of God
- The Grateful Athlete
- The Humble Athlete
- The Servant Athlete
- Sports Idols
- Your Next Game
- Application Questions for Athletes
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