“…let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16

If you’re looking for a mission statement as a Christian athlete, this could be the verse. Here in Matthew’s gospel, Jesus is not recommending us to shine our light but calling us to. From the very beginning, God blessed His children so that we could bless others. In fact, the talents, gifts, and abilities God has given you, were not intended for your glory, but to glorify your Father in Heaven and to bless those all around you.

When we read this passage, we might arrogantly think that “others” mean only the fans. We tend to forget those closest to us on the court or field: the coaches, your teammates, and even the opponent. Throughout Jesus’ teachings, He elevates and deepens what it means to be good and to love others. For Jesus, anyone can love and serve those who support them, but how do you treat those who are your opponents in this life (Luke 6:32-36)? I am not saying you shouldn’t compete to the best of your ability and strive for victory. Instead, I am asking you to evaluate how you play and if you play in a manner that even the opponent sees Jesus. This is the challenge for the Christian athlete in today’s world.

So, how do we do it? One image that helps me is the story of Calvary. Our Savior had opponents mocking, spitting, and beating Him, and yet He prayed for them, respected them, and ultimately died for them. With blood, sweat, and tears, He humbly carried our cross up a hill and won the victory of our salvation. While I am in no way saying that our salvation was a game or that the opponents we face in sports are the Real Enemy, I am saying that Jesus competed for us on Calvary’s hill. He did so with love, humility, respect, and glorified His Father in Heaven.

  • Prayerfully reflect on Jesus’s command to shine your light and how He glorified his Father on the cross.
  • Ask God to reveal ways you can shine your light so that your coaches, teammates, fans, and opponents can see Jesus in you.
  • Pray for your team and the opponent and that all involved would glorify God by the way they compete.

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