To watch a talk on this topic head to the bottom of this study.
During Covid-19 we have missed sport and particularly the opportunity to compete against others. Competition is an important part of sport but how are we to view our opponents? How do we ‘love’ them as our neighbour rather than hate them as our enemy in opposition? Our attitude towards them can be skewed and ungodly as the world of sports encourages this hate in order to fuel our passion to win.
14 Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. 16 Live in harmony with one another.Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Romans 1-11 unpacks the payment for our sin through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Chapter 12 shows us how we live in response, in relation to one another. It starts in verse 9 with the summary ‘Love must be sincere’ and then goes on to show what sincere love looks like. First, in v.9b-13, in the church and then, in v.14-21, towards those who are unbelievers.
Whilst we are to be competitive and use our gifts and abilities in sport as worship to God, this isn’t an excuse to treat our opponents with hate; rather, it is an opportunity to live out our faith in Christ in a distinctive way that shows love and respect.
17 Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
Not only do we want to love others in sport as we are loved by Christ, but we also do not want to bring the gospel into disrepute by saying one thing and doing the opposite.
‘Being careful to do what is right’ in regard to how we act towards opponents takes thought and prayer. If we simply rely on instinct or sports training, we may revert to old negative habits rather than responding to them in a Christ-like way.
19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
The constant focus of Romans isn’t to condemn people. Rather, it’s doing good to one’s opponents - instead of trying to bring about revenge, bring about repentance and point them to Jesus.
These are challenging verses. We are to live out Paul’s advice as part of our worship to God (Romans 12:1-2). When you compete in your sport, how can you help each other prepare for the moments you will face your opposition?
All Bible quotations are taken with permission from the NIV:
Holy Bible, New International Version® Anglicized, NIV® Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Get the perfect start every
A weekly devotional for sports people