he trend in some churches is toward young people getting involved in sports-
baseball, softball, hockey (in Canada), soccer (in Latin America), or any other
competitive sport. The involvement begins to show in regular game playing by
groups of youth playing against each other in team competition. This leads to
forming leagues, wearing special uniforms, and being well-informed about the
big leagues: who is playing whom, keeping up with the scores, and who the
famous players are.
As a result, the fever runs high, calling for more
practice, better players, and better equipment to outdo the competitors. After
all, everyone is out to win. Consciously or unconsciously, the desire for the
praise of men competes against zeal for God's approval!
We may say, "My church does not go that far." But
which way are we going, and how much effort are we expending in that direction?
Are we willing to stop and seriously consider whether
this motivation is from Christ or whether it is from the world? Let us consider
honestly whether these activities are conducive to spiritual life or whether
they are a violation of Bible principles.
What gets more publicity today than sports, both
locally and worldwide? Is there anything that draws larger crowds than sports
events? Famous players are idolized and receive larger salaries than heads of
state. Anything so highly esteemed by degenerate man cannot possibly be
pleasing to God, "for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in
the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). "Love not the world, neither the things that
are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in
him" (1 John 2:15).
The spirit of these sports events is contrary to the
spirit of Christ. Jesus said, "Whatsoever ye would that men should do to you,
do ye even so to them" (Matthew 7:12). Competing to outdo one another is
directly opposite to the Bible injunctions of "in honour preferring one
another" (Romans 12:10) and "in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better
than themselves" (Philippians 2:3). A commitment to Christ leaves neither time
nor interest for commercial sports in a worldly stadium.
Only good players are qualified to play on a popular
team. They are the ones who get all the praise and cheers, ballooning their
pride more and more. They are talked about, publicized, imitated, idolized, and
worshiped by unregenerate society. But the Bible says, "Mind not high things,
but condescend to men of low estate" (Romans 12:16). "God resisteth the proud,
but giveth grace unto the humble" (James 4:6).
Whenever the physical power, strength, and ability of
man is displayed before an audience, it has a demoralizing effect. As a result
of the emotional stirrings of sports events, immorality and other sensual sins
often are fanned.
Again the Bible speaks clearly. "For all that is in
the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of
life, is not of the Father, but is of the world" (1 John 2:16).
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are
these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness" [feeling, showing,
or causing lust] (Galatians 5:19). We are warned to "abstain from fleshly
lusts, which war against the soul" (1 Peter 2:11).
Wholesome games for children are good exercise for the
development of their minds and bodies. It is good for parents to take time to
play with their children. And it is no sin for youth to have an occasional
informal, friendly game as a social or recreational affair on a family to
family basis. But if and when your recreation becomes an obsession, you are
serving the wrong master.
Spiritual maturity will express itself in activities
that glorify God and benefit man. Paul testified, "When I was a child, I spake
as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:" [and no doubt
played as a child] "but when I became a man, I put away childish things" (1
If we give our energy for the sports fever, our fervor
for the things God will diminish. Attendance at prayer meeting and the
activities of the church begin to take second place. This is a sign of real
danger. We want to be a praying church, not a playing church!
We are not interested in accusing you. Evaluate your
priorities and commitment. Do you experience fulfillment that is the result of
a close fellowship with God? Are your finding rest in being yoked with Christ
and doing His will?
The church was not commissioned to provide activities
for her youth, but to evangelize souls into the kingdom and to nurture them
that they may grow in grace and the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord. This
burden and vision needs to be inspired in the hearts of youth. The true joy of
spirituality, of witnessing for Christ and obeying the Word, supersedes that of
winning a game or catching a big fish! The lack of this experience is fertile
ground for youth to expend their energy and talents on the vanity of sports,
for the want of something better.
If you want to team up, then team up with God and His
children. If you want to be competitive, seek to excel to the edifying of the
body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:12). If you want to win, then count all
earthly gain as "loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my
Lord" (Philippians 3:8). Your reward in heaven will far outweigh any earthly
honour. And it will be for eternity. Thank God.
This tract is available from:
21E286 Rod and Staff Publishers, Inc., Crockett, KY
41413. Telephone 606/522-4348.