"Football is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that."
Don't be deceived, my dear brothers. James 1:16. See also James 1:9-18
There are a number of areas, James suggests, in which we can be deceived:
- about or status and worth (v 9-11)
- about sin and temptation (13-15)
- about the reality of God (16-18).
It is human nature to be generous in our assessment of our own abilities and achievements. If anything, sportspeople are more prone to this than most. The challenge to be satisfied with our position is a hard one. Most of us are competitive by nature - it is part of what makes us good at sport. To be content with being on the bench, goes against everything we naturally think.
What James is saying is that our human achievements will "pass away like a wild flower"; so to take pride in something which does not last is very short-sighted. In any case what right have we to be proud of something that comes from God in any case (verse 17). An Olympic athlete recently asked me to pray that he would give his best in every training session. If we do that, we can be proud of our achievements and accept the outcome with contentment.
Sin is another area where we may deceive ourselves. From the moment Adam told God that "the woman YOU put here with me" (Genesis 3:12) had caused him to sin, we have been reluctant to take responsibility for our own actions. Going back to the verse, note that Adam's sin was first of all the woman's fault and secondly God's fault for putting her there! When our team concedes a score, do we say John gave me a bad pass, I was playing out of position, I was fouled or do we put our hand up and say "sorry, my fault".
The real antidote to deception is to accept responsibility, to be realistic in our self-assessment and to recognize our significance is in who we are not in how we perform.