For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come. - 1 Timothy 4:8
Today is, as you all know, Super Bowl LIV. Like every other Super Bowl before it, it is being held on a Sunday. A hundred years ago that would, of course, not been the case. But the blue laws that kept the stores closed on Sundays have, except for in a few places, all been abolished. To those in antiques, food service and sports, Sunday is now the biggest/busiest day of the week.
It would appear that the apostle Paul had no great problem with sports. Indeed he references athletics in one form or another a number of times in his writings…
Was Paul himself athletic? We don't know. Indeed the only reference I can think of in regards to any follower of Christ being involved in some athletic enterprise is the comment made in John 20:4 where it says that "the other apostle outran Peter" when the two were going to see the empty tomb of Jesus.
But our nation has become obsessed with sports. Children down to age 4 or 5 are encouraged to get involved in t-ball, soccer or even football. Tiger Woods was on television at the age of 4 (appearing with Bob Hope) showing off his golf swing. And there is no question but that the earlier a child is exposed to a sport the more likely they are to excel at that sport.
But in America, we are clearly making a religion out of sports. Kobe Bryant, a truly great basketball player, was killed in a helicopter crash this past week. While interviewing mourning fans, one fellow told the reporter that Bryant was everything to him. "He was my life!" he said. That is the kind of language that used to be used only in reference to a lover or God. But sports is taking over the place of both.
It seems to me that the apostle Paul would not have used athletic metaphors if he disregarded athletics. His comment about "physical training" (or bodily exercise) adds credence to this. So Paul appears to be saying, "Athletics can be good; sports can be good. Only keep them in balance to the bigger issues of life." Many a Christian athlete has said exactly that. So while our western world seems obsessed with sporting events, even to the point of having taken over the Christian Sabbath, let us speak truth. "Enjoy the sports! Enjoy the game! But remember that every game, win or lose, is but a fleeting moment of victory or defeat. But your soul is eternal and someday you will give an account before Almighty God as to how you lived it. So live it for Him and His glory. And along the way play hard all the time!"