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“All I know most surely about morality and obligation I owe to football”,

Albert Camus

The crown of righteousness

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day -and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing. 2 Timothy 4:7. On 25 October 1999, Payne Stewart stood on the steps of his home and blew kisses to his wife and children. Later that day he died in an aeroplane tragedy. He was the reigning US Open Golf Champion. At 42 he was in the prime of life. How can we make sense of his death?

At his funeral his friend and fellow pro golfer, Paul Azinger, ended his tribute with these words: "Payne Stewart fought the good fight, Payne Stewart finished the race, Payne Stewart kept the faith. Now there is in store for Payne Stewart the crown of righteousness." It was a poignant moment in a church filled with a congregation, which included most of the world's top golfers.

Paul Azinger was absolutely right. Payne Stewart was a sinner like the rest of us but he believed in Jesus, and when his race was finished, Jesus was there to give him the crown of righteousness.

And don't miss the end of end of verse 8 - the crown of righteousness is not just for Paul, not just for Payne, but for "all who have longed for his appearing." That is the great question of life: What do you think about Jesus?

Is he God? Is he the boss of your life? If so, you will know that it is not easy to represent Christ in the world of sport. It can be a hard slog. Sometimes we need to remember how the story will end and that the crown of righteousness, thankfully Christ's righteousness, not ours, awaits us and will be ours forever.

If he is not boss of your life, you have missed out on the purpose of being alive.

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