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Fall is an exciting time of year for those who play sports, and especially for fans who love to view sports. More people are watching sports than in any other season. This weekend is the opening weekend for the NFL. College football is underway. Major League Baseball is inching closer to the playoffs. The English Premier League has been in season for a month now, and the NBA starts training camp in just a couple of weeks. In short, there is something to watch for sports fans every single day for the next few months. So as millions of people throughout the world have their attention fixed on sports, how can we watch, play, and enjoy sports to the glory of God?
David Platt has this advice for Christians when it comes to their engagement in sports:
Before you begin to play any sport, before you begin to watch a sport, before you begin to do anything sports-related, pause for a moment. Pause for a moment, either in your heart or, even better, out loud, and thank God for this gift He has given. This kind of thanksgiving brings glory to God. When you are thanking God continually and intentionally like this, you are much less likely to turn sports into an avenue for self-centeredness, self-gratification, or self-glorification.
In the process of thanking God, let the enjoyment of sports lead to ever-increasing affection for God. When I give a gift to someone, I give it to them for their enjoyment. As the giver of that gift, I am honored when I see the person enjoying it. When I give my kids a gift right now, whether it is on a birthday, a reward for reading goals, or whatever else, Heather and I give them Legos. We are honored, not when they take the Legos and set them aside and just kind of apathetically say thanks, but when they light up, dig into the box, and spend time enjoying the gift.
It is the same way when I receive a gift. It was my birthday a few weeks ago and my kids got me a rain jacket. The jacket I had before just did not work anymore. It would rain, I would put the jacket on, I would walk through the rain, and it would look like I hardly had a jacket on at all. But now when it rains, I put it on and walk through the rain, get inside, and I am dry; my affection for my children grows because of the gift they have given me. My enjoyment of the gift leads to ever-increasing affection for the giver.
So when you play sports and enjoy it, when you enjoy watching that touchdown scored, that homerun hit, or that three-point shot drained, let your enjoyment of this lead to ever-increasing affection for the God who gave the good gift to you in the first place.
This is how we watch and play sports to the glory of God—with gratitude in our hearts to Him. Don’t let your affection center on the gift; let your affection rise to the Giver.
–This excerpt is adapted from the sermon titled “The Cross and the Christian’s Sports.”