As a lifelong sports fan and athlete, and one who used to idol sports above everything, I find great value in sports and I try to watch and play sports to the glory of God. I didn’t always use sports to glorify God though.
Sports are great because the competition they embody is meant to be played on an equal playing field. Whether the participants are the most talented or least talented, everyone starts with the same rules (unless you’re the Patriots). One team brings their best and the other team brings their best. May the best team compete and win.
There is ultimate excitement when your team wins and ultimate despair when your team loses, especially when the stakes are high.
As all good things, sports can also be distorted from their original meaning. We live in a sports culture that values winning by any means.
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A culture that tries to bend the rules in hopes of winning at the other teams’ expense.
A culture that forgets souls are being stewarded rather than merely physical bodies.
I used to value sports more than God.
I have turned countless tennis racquets into stop signs, removed joysticks from N64 controllers, slung a fair share of ping pong paddles and golf clubs and punted basketballs. Also, I have ignored my competitor after losing, because I made sports all about me.
But God changed me and has placed me in a position to work with children using sports to share love and to play sports with a renewed mind of bringing glory to God. He has changed my heart to watch sports, so God may be glorified and not myself.
Here are 3 ways that we can use sports to glorify God:
#1. Grace – The gospel is a gospel of grace. We can watch sports with grace towards the referee who makes a bad call or our favorite player who drops a pass or strikes out. We can be gracious to the competitor during a competition, by helping them to their feet after falling or comforting them after getting injured.
#2. Humility – The gospel demands we be humble. May our victories not overshadow our greatest victory of God himself. Let us be humble enough to love the opposing fans and/or competitors after our team comes out on top. May we be humble in victory and defeat. Our defeat shouldn’t dictate our level of humility we show our competitor. Being upset after a loss is natural, but if it affects how we love our neighbor in the heat of competition, then we have failed to display the gospel.
#3. Serve – The gospel demands we be servants of our neighbor. As a competitor or viewer of sports, may we serve our teammates, coaches, referees, and those of the opposing team. Let’s appreciate and praise God when we watch an athlete serve someone else in competition.
These are a few examples amongst many of how to play and watch sports to the glory of God.