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October 5th, 2017
I’ve enjoyed sports since I was a boy. But, it’s had too much of an effect on my emotions. Why did I care if a bunch of guys who don’t know me lost a game that really provided no possible benefit to my life? But, I did care. If my favorite team lost, I’d be upset for hours. Still, hoping for my team's success, I listened to games on the radio and watched on TV. I spent time collecting sports cards and reading sports articles. I played college soccer and still play. I coached my kids. I even turned it into a career as a TV sportscaster. Sports has been a dominating factor in my life.
"And I looked, and behold, you had sinned against the Lord your God. You had made yourselves a golden calf. You had turned aside quickly from the way that the Lord had commanded you." (Deuteronomy 9:16)
"Let all those be ashamed who serve graven images, who boast themselves of idols; Worship Him, all you gods." (Psalm 97:7)
Those verses never used to convict me because I never thought I worshipped idols. After all, there wasn’t a golden calf on the shelf next to my sports memorabilia. But now, as painful as it is to admit, I allowed sports to become an idol in my life.
“We sin when we take sports and turn it into a God that captivates and consumes and begins to control us.” (Pastor David Platt)
"Little children, guard yourselves from idols." (1 John 5:21)
Now let me say this, sports are a good gift from a gracious God. Being a fan or an athlete isn’t wrong. The danger is when we turn that gift into something that competes for God’s place in our life.
“The true God of your heart is what your thoughts effortlessly go to when there is nothing else that is demanding your attention.” (Pastor Tim Keller)
"Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry." (1 Corinthians 10:14)
Why flee? Partly because idols will always disappoint. The Seattle Mariners are my favorite baseball team, but they’ve never won a World Series. Even if they had, it could never satisfy my deepest need.
Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady said this: “Why do I have three super bowl rings and still think there is something greater out there for me?” The interviewer then asked, “What is the answer?” Brady said, “I wish I knew.”
What I do know is this: I need to put sports in its proper place and God in His. I don’t think God is asking me to denounce any involvement with sports, but He is asking me to keep sports from being an idol.
Eric Liddell, who won a gold medal at the 1924 Olympics said this: “God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast and when I run I feel His pleasure.”
What a great perspective. For years, my eyes were blinded from seeing sports as an idol in my life. I’ve asked the Lord to release the grip sports has on me and to show me how to glorify Him in every game I play or event I attend. God is the only one who deserves my deepest devotion. He is the only one who can ever satisfy my soul. No team or sport can ever do that. Believing any sport can, is believing a lie.
"...we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one." (1 Corinthians 8:4b)