Philippians 4:9 reminds us, “What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” In other words, what you receive – both by teaching and experience – is meant for application and maturity. And the level of hard work you put into your own growth will reflect what progress you make as a Christian.
Here is an illustration of that truth from the sports world: Tiger Woods.
In the 2000’s, Tiger woods dominated the PGA. In fact, one might argue, he was the most recognizable face in any sport on any level in the entire world. He was “must see” TV. If Tiger was playing in a tournament, we watched. If he was in contention in a major, we were canceling other activities to see him win or pull off some ridiculous shot. Tiger walked onto a golf course and defeated his opponents with his talent and mental focus.
During this dominating reign in the world of golf, many concluded that much of his success had to do with his commitment to practice and exercise. Golf had long been viewed as a sport that anyone could play, but Tiger walked onto that first tee in his muscle shirt with noticeable biceps and 6-pack abs.
His practice routines during these years consisted of hitting thousands of golf balls for 8-10 hours per day. When you hit that many golf balls that often and add that practice regiment to the already-existing natural talent, you become the world’s #1 golfer.
Fast forward to 2017. The only time we ever hear of Tiger today is when he gets arrested or loses his wife or girlfriend or can’t make a cut in another golf tournament.
There is a plethora of answers to that question. But one answer must be that he is not producing victories and he is not intimidating anyone any longer because he is not putting time and effort into his golf game.
His priorities in life are not golf, as he said in an interview with ESPN reporter and commentator Scott Van Pelt earlier this year. Now, one could argue that his priority to be a dad is much better and more satisfying, but that is another blog post for another time
What you put into anything in life will have a corresponding result.
The Christian would does not study the truths of God’s Word will lack discernment. The Christian who does not reflect on the Gospel and attributes of God will have shallow worship. The Christian who gets too busy in life will rarely serve others. The Christian who makes foolish decisions does not seek counsel.
What you put into anything in life will have a corresponding result.
I am often edified when I read articles about Christians who are professional athletes by vocation. Often when I discover an athlete that I didn’t know professed Christ, I will pray for them by name and the team or sport they represent (which is their mission field).
Webb Simpson, who is a golfer on the PGA, has one of the more solid understandings of Scripture than any other athlete I have read.
Recently, he was interviewed by Sean Martin of The Gospel Coalition right before golf’s first major – The Masters.
He was asked his vocation as a golfer and how that influences terms like “gifting” and “calling.” He answered it this way –
“I don’t see my gifting as unique. My gift happens to be golf, but another guy’s might be preaching and another’s teaching. The Lord spreads us out for his purposes and for our enjoyment of him. My calling isn’t to be a golfer. Like every other Christian, I’m called to participate in the Great Commission—to go and make disciples of all nations. My vocational context for fulfilling that calling happens to be golf.
“I wasn’t born to be a golfer. I was born to be a child of God. There’s a big difference in perspective when I start with that. Focusing on being a child of God, beloved by the King, makes me more focused on being effective where I am.
“I may have a bigger audience than someone else, but some of the most effective, faithful men I know are in a small area in terms of reach. They’re discipling a couple of guys, doing a great job in their home, and being faithful where they are. I think a danger for me and other people in my position is if we’re trying to reach a ton of people and rejecting the Great Commission of making disciples of a few.”
Read the rest of this interview here.
Sports fans are sometimes as entertaining as the sporting event itself.
Tune into a sporting event on T.V. and you may see a middle-aged man with his entire body painted in his favorite team’s colors. You may see a group of young people with matching T-shirts and individual letters on each shirt spelling a word that relates to an athlete or team. You may see a woman in the stands shouting profanities at the referees, the opposing team or other fans. You may see a little boy or little girl getting so emotional about their team’s loss that they are shedding tears uncontrollably.
Sports fans react in so many ways to sporting events. And many, if not most of them, only behave in these certain ways for their sports teams. They don’t behave in the same way at a wedding or family dinner.
I enjoy the creative loyalty that sports fan express, as long as it is not displeasing to the Lord in some ways (e.g., crude language on a sign, shouting vulgarities, etc.).
Every now and then, someone will criticize the enthusiasm of sports fans (especially that are Christians) and say something like this: “If only people would get as excited about the Lord Jesus Christ as they do their favorite sports team.”
I get that sports can become an idol and we can give far too much attention to man than we do God. I get that we can invest crazy amounts of money in watching sports and give very little to the Lord’s work. I get the analogy that is being used.
But frankly, when it comes to the gathering of a local church, I don’t want that same kind of sports fan loyalty and enthusiasm in the building, and I don’t believe God would either.
I don’t believe God wants church attendees heckling people on stage to try to get in the mind of someone and force them to behave in a certain manner (I Corinthians 13:5).
I don’t believe God wants church attendees to be divisive when they disagree with something said or done like a sports fan who doesn’t like the way a referee is calling a game (Titus 3:10-11).
I don’t believe God wants people attending a worship service to be dressed inappropriately for a worship service and becoming a distraction so others cannot focus on the real reason they are there (I Peter 3:3-4).
Frankly, a sports fan’s enthusiasm is not a good barometer for a worshipper of God.
I have the book In the Arena: The Promise of Sports for Christian Discipleship by David Prince on my “Most Wanted List.” Being an avid sports fan, I am always looking to encourage my soul to enjoy sports as a gracious gift of God and not an idol. This book, reviewed by Gavin Peacock of The Gospel Coalition, looks helpful.