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I compose and post these articles with only one desire in my heart: to praise God and to offer modest help on your spiritual journey.

Friday, January 23, 2015

BIBLE AND SPORTS – AND – THE BIG GAME

Sports have captivated and entertained people from the beginning of
human society. Archeologists uncover in just about every culture the
proof of the very human need to excel, to compete, to entertain
through sport.

Thus it is not strange that the bible would use such imagery in
encouraging and teaching us how to live. With all the attention the
Super Bowl demands of our national and local news it behooves us to
take a moment to reflect on what Scripture has to say.

The controversy of the New England Patriots questionable football
inflation in winning their conference title continues to generate
jokes and heated discussion. Yet perhaps we might reflect on 2 Tm 2:5
"An athlete is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules."
It is right that we hold each other to fair competition by
establishing rules and demanding strict adherence. Any hint of
cheating only diminishes the "crown" and erases the efforts and
sacrifices of all the participants. So playing by the rules is a
valuable lesson for old and young, rich or poor.

Sport is dominated by the best of our youth. They become the pride of
any community no matter its size or fame. Thus a neighborhood little
league gets as much attention by its participating families as a world
match for a nation.

But youth fades into old age. Aging is often said not for the weak. So
training is important. I Cor.9:25-27 "All athletes are disciplined in
their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we
do it for an eternal prize. So I run with purpose in every step. I am
not just shadowboxing. I discipline my body like an athlete, training
it to do what it should. Otherwise, I fear that after preaching to
others I myself might be disqualified." Training to grow old in
dignity and grace is a worthy prize.

Perhaps more important than the prize is learning how to lose. The
sports mantra of try and try again"" and the graciousness of accepting
temporary defeat is a good part of those who store up a treasure of
gold. Their training through illness, bearing with pain and acceptance
of others coaching through all these trials inspires us. Rms 5:3-4
"Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that
suffering produces endurance, 4 and endurance produces character, and
character produces hope."

Thus the athletes who inspire us and who truly may be considered
heroes are those who with dignity and grace pass beyond their
accomplishments to bear witness to the worthiness of their trophies.
Public service unstained by scandal and self-discipline that lifts up
the glory of others than themselves is what we admire in the "back
stories" of our great athletes. This is the inspirational
encouragement of Is. 40:29-31 "He gives strength to the weary and
increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and
young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew
their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and
not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint."

So whatever the outcome of Sunday's big game, be entertained, be
encouraged, and be inspired that each of us in our strength and in our
weakness can be a winner. No matter how incapacitated or how fit we
may be, we can draw strength from God and "soar like the eagles".

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