Skip to content
Home » A Biblical Perspective on Sports Competition

A Biblical Perspective on Sports Competition

The sermon text for this coming Lord’s Day will be James 1:2-4. This passage describes the positive benefits that accrue from persevering through life’s trials and tests.

Of all the trials and tests that James was writing about, there’s no doubt that he had in mind those “unwanted” trials and tests which so often come upon God’s people. These are the unexpected burdens that life seems to dish out. These are the tragedies that come so suddenly. And these trials and tests include the emotional and spiritual pain that accompanies them.

Yet we would be remiss if we limited the application of James 1:2-4 to only the major trials and tests in our lives. These three verses from James are also applicable to the minor trials and tests that we experience in our lives.

This Sunday, I will be applying these verses to a very specific form of trial and testing; that being sporting competitions.

Some Christians have expressed their disapproval of sporting competitions. Such activities foster anger and hatred towards one another, we’re told. Those who disapprove of sporting competitions suggest that the zeal to win at these competitions promotes an anti-Christian attitude of selfishness and greed. “Rather than trying to usurp one another and living in strife,” they say, “we ought to be putting other before ourselves and living in unity.”

Any Christian who desires to engage in competitive sports ought to be able to answer these concerns from the Scriptures. This means we need to have a biblical perspective on sporting competitions.

Since our annual church picnic is scheduled for June 23, and some of the activities planned for the picnic are competitive sporting activities, it’s an appropriate time for us to consider this topic. I will be asserting the position that sporting competitions, when handled according to biblical principles, are profitable forms of training and recreation.

This position will be based upon the understanding that “sports” is an enterprise in which a person must learn to overcome and/or persevere through trials and tests. A “competition” in sports is where individuals (or teams) agree to co-operatively oppose one another, within the boundaries of defined rules, in order to create the trials and tests for each other. In other words, a “competitor” is not a rival; it’s a person who has agreed to provide obstacles for his opponent to overcome. Such obstacles serve as trials and tests conducted in an environment defined by clear rule. The result of biblical sporting competitions is that of mutual growth, training and edification between the contestants of the competition.

Of course, those Christians who oppose sporting competitions on the grounds that they fosters anti-Christian behavior and attitudes do not have to look far to find examples to support their position. As with many activities, sinful abuse of a good thing can make it a bad thing. So in order for us to have a comprehensive biblical perspective on sporting competitions, we’ll need to acknowledge some of the pitfalls and temptations that can turn a righteous sporting competition into a sinful competition.

Sermon Addition
I ended up adding 1 Corinthians 9:24-27 as my secondary sermon text for this coming Lord’s Day. This passage ended up playing a more significant role than I initially expected it to, so I ask that you spend some time studying these verses. Ask yourself, “What does this passgae tell me about competitive sports? What does this passage tell me about how an athlete ought to participate in such competitions?”