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How Do You Glorify God in Sport?

Published on July 01, 2023


“The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” –John 12:25 

One of my all-time favorite movies is Chariots of Fire. I remember watching this as a young adult and being deeply impacted by the story of Eric Liddell. The movie is based on the true story of two British athletes who won gold medals in the 1924 Olympics. The motivation to run and compete for both star athletes, however, was different. Eric Liddell, a devout Christian, ran for the glory of God and the love of running while Harold Abraham, a Jew, ran to overcome prejudice and anti-Semitism. 

Shortly after winning the Olympic gold medal for Britain in the 400m, Liddell went to China as a missionary and died imprisoned there for his Christian faith. He was clear that the purpose of his life was to put God first and bring Him glory. 

I am reminded of the verse in John 12 where Jesus talks about commitment to God being so central to who we are, that our striving for advantage, glory and pleasure goes away:   

“The one who loves his life will lose it, and the one who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.” --John 12:25 

The why is important. I think Eric Liddell’s why captures it simply and profoundly: 

“I believe God made me for a purpose, but He also made me fast and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” 

When we do everything motivated by our love for God and feel the pleasure of what we are born to do, whether we are playing a sport, coaching players or ministering to athletes, we bring God glory. 

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” –1 Corinthians 10:31 

The Apostle Paul in his letter to the Corinthian church takes it a notch higher when he says to glorify God in everything we do. That means not only in the important things, but even in the mundane things like eating and drinking. 

If we learn in the small things and daily moments to keep God at the center, then in the big moments of sporting success, it will be about God and not about us. 

How do we apply this concept of glorifying God to competing? 

Read the rest of the article to learn three truths to ensure glory goes to God.