The Christian and Sports
by Jeff Fry
Can a Christian participate in sports and be right in God's sight? Do you think this is a silly question? Is it possible for a person to lose their soul because of sports? Does God really care whether or not Christians participate in sports?
First, we must have Bible authority for everything we say or do (Col 3:17). So, yes, God does care whether or not Christians participate in sports. I have always loved sports. Although exercising profits little (1 Tim 4:8), an unavoidable conclusion is, we are commanded to take care of our earthly tabernacles(1 Cor 3:17). Does this general command mean that there are not any specific or restrictive commands in regards to participating in sports?
General commands never "overrule" specific commands. Yes, Christians must be careful not to allow "sports" to cause them to sin in disobeying other commands of God. This is not an exhaustive list but one that we should consider BEFORE we engage in ANY activity. I believe these rules don't just apply to the elders and/or the preacher. They apply to ALL Christians. Also, don't "convince" yourself that it is OK for your "child" to do it because you can "stop" them when they get to an "age" when it is "wrong".
1) Activities that would cause us to "forsake" the assembling of ourselves together (Heb 10:24-25) would not be authorized by God. Our spiritual well being is much more important than our physical well being. It is a simple matter of putting first things first (Mat 6:33). I believe we should stay away from any temptation that may have us "thinking" about the game while assembling with saints to worship God. Don't be rushing (breaking the laws of the land, Rom 13:1-7) to or from the "game". Don't rush out as soon as the "amen" is said. "Hindered beyond our control" does not mean "I didn't know it would go into extra innings. That's why I am 'late'." or "But we won." or "The 'team' needed me."
2) Activities that would cause us (man or woman) to dress immodestly would not be allowed by God for a Christian to participate in (1 Tim 2:9). I believe this completely rules out "sports" in which the opposite gender would be watching or could see us. I would even be "careful" in regards to the same gender. Even with the "right" clothing on, activities where we would be putting our bodies in positions that are not proper would be condemned.
Just because it is a "sport" and is accepted by the "world" does not make it "acceptable" to God. Why would a Christian even want to watch others who have "nothing" on? Does it cause us to "think on these things"(Phil 4:8-9). I don't believe it is necessary to tell you the "sports" that are involved. Don't think that this means it is all right to join other Christians in it because "we'd" never go any further than "that".
Do you really think the Jesus or the apostles would join in this activity?
3) Activities that causes men and women to have "close physical contact" would not be allowed by God. We should "flee" or "abstain" from those things that might cause us to sin(1 Cor 6:18, 2 Tim 2:22, 1 Thess 5:22). As I heard in lessons of old, "If it doesn't 'bother' you, you're either lying or something is wrong with you. You're either "mean" or "green"."
4) Activities that causes us to intentionally hurt someone else would not be allowed (Mat 7:12). Just because the coach says it is OK doesn't make it right in God's sight. "For the sake of the team" is not for the "cause" of Christ. I'm not talking about accidents, "incidental" contact or recognized parts of the games in which there are "rules" for. But still, don't get yourself involved where there is a "high temptation" to cause that to happen.
5) Activities that would cause us to be "fasting" or "gorging" ourselves(a lack of self control, 1 Cor 9:25-27). We've got to "make" a certain weight in order to have the best opportunity to "win". Don't "intentionally" harm your body in activities that physicians have well documented that is harmful to your health. Such things that do not allow "normal" growth rates for boys and girls (men and women also) and have many harmful side effects.
6) Activities that cause us to get so wrapped up in the game that we may lie about what really happened (Rev 21:8, Eph 4:32). Activities that would cause us to be "unsportsmanlike"(another word for not behaving like a "Christian".) Activities that would cause us to lose sight of reality. We blind ourselves to the facts and show partiality (Jam 2:9).
You might think that this list rules out most sports. It may, but if these scriptures (and others) are not violated, then I beleive they are allowable by God. In a lot of cases, I believe, Christians just don't want to be looked at as being different because of the way they dress. One of the "proudest" moments of my life was when my son refused to "run" in a race in shorts. They didn't allow him to compete, but he taught a lesson to many just by his action. He "won" for the cause of Christ. Some have also "conditioned" themselves to think that they can't jump as high, run as fast and etc. if they don't get the "regular equipment" on. While this may or may not be true, isn't it good to know YOU are teaching a lesson by example. Isn't it better to come in "last", behaving as a Christian than 1st and losing your soul?
Accept "loses" gracefully. Appreciate "wins" humbly. Give God the credit for the "talents" you may have. Pride goes before destruction (Prov 16;18). Consider the most: Will the activity "further the cause of Christ"? - Jeff Fry
[Editors Note: Thanks to Jeff Fry for the article! Jeff can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org]
Email the Editor at email@example.com
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