What does it mean to practice my sport for the glory of God? I see people on social media talking about “playing for the glory of God” or declaring “everything for his glory” – what does that actually mean?
If you spend time on social media or listen to post-game interviews, it’s not hard to find sports people talking about doing something for the glory of God and giving thanks after a game # AllGloryToGod.
But what do they actually mean? What is the glory of God and how do we do anything for the glory of God?
God’s purpose is to show his glory
First of all, we must ask ourselves: what is the world talking about?
Well, it’s all about God. The universe, the heavens, the sea and the heavens are all around God and made for him and they all proclaim his glory (Psalm 19:2).
Author and theologian John Piper summed it up by saying:
“God’s ultimate purpose is to preserve and display his infinite and awe-inspiring greatness and worth, that is, his glory.”
The whole world, including us, was created to show off the magnificence of God.
“Anyone who is called by my name, which I created for my glory, which I formed and made. (Isaiah 43:7)
We were all created in the image of God to reflect and represent the God who created us.
So we can say that it is a good and right thing to think about how we can glorify God in our sport because that is how we were created.
How we are often wrong
Brian Smith in his book, The Christian Athlete, outlines three main ways athletes can get this concept wrong.
We proudly redirect
He refers to the oft-heard post-match interview or social media post where someone is asked about the goal they scored or the play they made and the athlete replies: “Well, first of all, I want to give all the glory to God and thank him for this moment.”
What is the danger in doing this? Is that really a good thing to say?
Smith refers to Paul and Barnabas in Acts 14 where, after healing a girl, the crowds began to sing and shout:
“The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men. They called Barnabas Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the main speaker. »
It’s a lot like what can happen in sports. Paul and Barnabas did something amazing, the crowd went wild and they started comparing them to the greats of history.
Paul and Barnabas, Smith notes, did not respond “all glory be to God”, but instead began to implore the crowd to stop worshiping them. As Smith notes:
“Paul and Barnabas show us the right way to respond to the glory that belongs only to God. They aggressively attacked the praise showered upon them and sought to turn away from the light. »
We don’t mean what we say
The danger Smith notes here is that we sometimes say “all the glory be to God” but often what we say doesn’t match the reality of what we just did. He says:
“Glory to God statements after a game simply become a robotic response – perhaps with good intentions but delivered without serious thought about whether or not what we just did glorified him.” Basically, this may be hypocrisy.
We don’t understand what God really wants
Often we don’t see athletes giving glory to God when they lose or are injured. We assume that God only gets glory from us when we win. As Smith says, “We have drawn a dangerous link between earthly success and the primary way in which God is glorified.
So how can I glorify God in my sport?
We cannot add to the glory of God by meeting a certain standard or doing something amazing. God is complete and perfect and needs nothing from us. But we can highlight its glory, it is its value.
We glorify God in our sport by reveling in it and showing its infinite value and beauty to those we play with in what we do and say. So, as we ask this question, here are two things we can think about when it comes to glorifying God in our sport:
We glorify God by enjoying him while playing a game
“The chief end of man is to glorify God and please him forever.”
We glorify God primarily by pleasing him, or as Psalm 37:4 says “rejoicing in the Lord” who himself brings us joy, that is what we were created for. We were created to be happy and we achieve this by enjoying God, which glorifies him.
Just as a doctor and a patient both find joy when the sick patient is healed, so God is happy when we appreciate Him. Sport, as a gift from God, is one of those things that we can then take full advantage of and thus give glory to him by doing it. Pastor John Piper summed it up by saying:
“God is more glorified when we are more satisfied in him.”
It means that we will be satisfied with what He sovereignly does in our lives, both what we think is good and what we find difficult to understand. God is not only glorified when we win or when we achieve everything. Sport is a wonderful gift from God which he uses to make us more like him (Romans, in ups and downs, victory as well as pain. As we recognize that this is what God is doing in our sport , we can glorify Him because we are grateful for what He does in us through our sport.A heart of thanksgiving is key as we seek to glorify Him.
We glorify God by declaring his greatness
Jesus said in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light likewise shine before men, that they may see your fine way of doing things, and thus may they celebrate the glory of your heavenly Father. »
As we appreciate God and his gifts, it will lead to good deeds, it is loving service to our adversaries and those with whom we compete. We will serve them in how we compete as well as how we speak of the magnificence of God. For if we don’t point people to the one who gives eternal joy, how can we say we love them?
While sport is not only valuable because of the opportunities it provides to build friendships and share our faith, evangelism is one way we can bring glory to God as we live out our new identity. as saved people, enjoying all that he has given us.
So – how can I glorify God in my sport? Well, our entire lives are to be lived for His glory – living with complete joy and freedom as we cry out through all we do and all we say that the God we worship is glorious! May we go enjoy it in our sport today.