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"there has only ever been one perfect man, the Lord Jesus, and we killed him. I only missed a putt."

Berhard Langer on the 1991 Ryder Cup

A Gift from God

But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that. 1 Corinthians 7:7

This verse is one of many places where Paul writes about the spiritual gifts which people have received from God. The Bible reveals a God who gives gifts to men and women. There are spiritual gifts as well as natural and physical abilities. All of them are from God and are to be used for our enjoyment and God’s glory. It would be a perverse interpretation of the Bible to argue—as some do—that some gifts, like a musical talent, are from God, whereas speed, co-ordination and other sporting talents are not. Sporting ability is as much a gift from God as singing in the choir or Sunday School teaching. All are capable of being used in God’s service for his glory.

We might say that as God made us and is our creator, every ability we have is a gift from God. And that must include our sporting ability. Sport and our ability to play and enjoy it are part of God’s creation. If we recognize that our ability to run, jump, throw, kick, control a ball etc is from God, then that will transform our view of sport. We will see it as an activity in which we can use the gifts and abilities God has given us for his glory.

I am convinced that sport is as valuable and significant as any other human activity. It is true that the world of sport can be a very godless place: but can’t all aspects of life be like this?

Peter Pollock, former South African cricketer, makes a helpful distinction when he says, ‘Ability is a gift from God but lust for success is not his plan’ (‘The myth of success’, in Today, September 1999).

When sportspeople recognize their sporting ability as a gift from God, they are set free to enjoy it and to use it for his glory. Gone are the guilt feelings that sport is unholy or, at best, a tolerable but low-priority activity. They can go out and play their sport to the best of their ability, in the spirit of Paul in Colossians 3:23: ‘Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.’ The individual ought to feel the freedom to be a sportsperson and to demonstrate his or her relationship with a life-changing, sin-conquering God and to declare faith in that God in the sporting environment.

Thank God for the sporting ability he has given you. Go out and use it for his glory.

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