Bible Study: Romans 12
Bible Study: Romans 12

To watch a talk on this topic head to the bottom of this study.


How do you view the people you compete against in your sport? Describe how you feel.

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.

Read Romans 12:14-16

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.

What you need to know

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.

  • List the imperatives (commands) from these verses and discuss why living this way is so counter-cultural in sport.
  • Now separate out your list into the do’s and don’t’s. When thinking about relating to your opponents, why are these heart attitudes and actions crucial in pointing them to Christ?
  • Will living like this make you less competitive?

Sum Up

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.

Read Romans 12:17-18

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.

What you need to know

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.

  • Often our reaction to injustice in sport can bring out a less-than-loving response. How do these verses suggest we should respond to opponents in sport even when they don’t treat us as we’d like?
  • What does it look like to ‘do what is right in the eyes of everyone’ in your sport? v.17
  • What does v18 look like in sport when you are competing against an opponent?

Sum Up

‘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.

Read Romans 12:19-21

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.

What you need to know

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.

  • Revenge in sport is often seen as a good motivator - how do these verses challenge that?
  • Though it hurts when we face injustice at the hands of an opponent, who ultimately is responsible for dealing with injustice according to these verses?
  • Verses 20-21 give us a very different blueprint for our response when we are wronged. Go through this response and discuss what this looks like in your sport.

What does this mean for us?

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?

Go Deeper

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

Choose your game day