My swimming career—along with every other sport I played—is a pathetic example of how not to play sports to the glory of God. As I look back, I now realize just how proud I was. The pool and the field were my stage, my opportunity to glorify myself—or at least try to. The countless swim meets and basketball, football, and baseball games were wasted opportunities. At every event, I wanted to be noticed. I wanted applause. Come to think of it, I wanted glory—the glory that belongs to God alone.
What about you? If you’ve played for your own glory rather than God’s, is there hope?
Most definitely! But we won’t find that hope in merely resolving to do better in the next game. When it comes to playing for the glory of God, “Just do it” doesn’t cut it. There’s no exercise program or set of drills that guarantees we won’t waste our sports. That’s because all of us, whether we’re armchair athletes or seasoned pros, are sinners in need of a Savior. Left to ourselves, our hearts worship something other than God.
The only hope for every sinner—and that includes you and me—is found in the gospel: the glorious truth that “Christ died for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3). In his death on the cross, Jesus Christ bore the penalty for every time we have exalted ourselves instead of him, every time we’ve idolized a sports team or an athlete, every time we’ve forgotten to thank God for his merciful gifts to us. We’ve wasted our sports. But in the grace of God through Christ, we can receive forgiveness.
This amazing grace also gives us hope for change. The cross of Christ not only makes possible forgiveness of sin, but also provides power to overcome sin.
I wish I had learned all of this as a young man. I had the opportunity to glorify God in my sports and I fumbled it. I wasted my sports.
You have the opportunity, by the grace of God, not to waste yours. Your next game is an opportunity to glorify God.
I urge you: Whatever you do—whether you play football or soccer, whether you’re practicing or playing, whether you’re in little league or the pros, whether you win or lose—whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
- 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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