Sports in the Bible
“Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize?” So run to win!”
– 1 Corinthians 9-24
You might be wondering how you can use your interest and participation in your various sporting activities to glorify God. You might not be a sports champion at the Olympic level, but rather an enthusiast who enjoys working out the body and taking part in various sporting activities. This might tempt you or someone else to ask if there is any spiritual merit in what you do.
The first and most direct reference to the value of sports or physical activity for the body is when the apostle Paul said, “Bodily exercise profits little.” Here is an acknowledgment of the value of physical exercise.
However, the same Paul drew many analogies between Christianity and sports as he described the former as a race to be run and as a struggle with the Devil as a wrestling match. He also advised Christians to lay aside every weight that so easily hampers us in running, just like how the athlete in training needs to focus and be self-disciplined. He further compared the Christian life to a marathon requiring endurance.
The Old Testament is filled with reference to the sporting activities today. For example, in Judges, there were 700 left-handed soldiers in Israel who could throw stones within a hair’s breadth of their target reminding us of the javelin or discus throwers in modern sports. Then comes Samson, the weightlifter, who carried away the gates of the city of Gaza on his mighty shoulders. King David praised God for giving him the power to use his high jumping and hurdling skills to run through a troop and leap over a wall in defeating his enemies.
The most amazing athlete might have been Elijah who, in the power of the Holy Spirit, outran King Ahab’s chariot from Mount Carmel to Jezreel. This was about 19 miles and it is very likely that he broke Usain Bolt’s 100 and 200 meter records. These are just a few of the noteworthy athletic achievements by some of our Bible characters that received great physical strength through God’s blessing.
If you are wondering how does your involvement in active sports can be used to glorify God, then think on these reference to sports and the many characters who demonstrated various levels of physical fitness to accomplish God’s purpose. Having a fit body and using it to carry out the many sporting feats you perform is a daily demonstration to the biblical truth that the human body is fearfully and wonderfully made by God, our Creator. Plus, these activities help you maintain a healthy body which is needed to do God’s will. These things you should never forget this!