The chief end of every athletic endeavour is "to glorify God and to enjoy him forever." This simple goal directs every aspect of our participation in sports. Although, as Christians, we can compete to win, our highest goal which overarches every goal, is to please our Heavenly Father in all that we do, also as athletes. Although the objective of competition is to win, the more important overarching goal is to compete in a manner that brings honor to the name of Christ. We should use the opportunity of competition to draw the attention to the more important "crown that will last forever," the prize of competing in a manner that pleases our Heavenly Father. Sports activities are given by God as an opportunity to bring glory to him. It is interesting to note how frequently the Apostle Paul used athletic competition as a metaphor for the rigors of the Christian life. Spiritual lessons can be learned through involvement in sporting activities.
Everything done on the field of competition by athletes, parents, coaches, spectators and all other participants should "testify to the gospel of God's grace." As such, in all our athletic pursuits we should reflect our gratitude to God. [Colossians 1:12-14] This gratitude should be shown in a love of competition and a pursuit of athletic excellence, in good sportsmanship towards opposing teams, in a respect for the authority of officials, in a willingness to sacrifice individual aspirations for the good of the team, and in a multitude of other ways that bear witness to Christ before the world.
Christian athletes are given the high calling of bringing honour to Christ in all that they do while engaged in athletic competition. We live in a culture which idolizes athletic ability and accomplishment above the development of Christ-like character. As Christians we should compete with Christ-likeness in both our conduct and our attitude towards teammates; opponents; and game officials. This means that we treat fellow teammates in an encouraging and upbuilding manner; opponents with the utmost dignity and good sportsmanship; and game officials with the utmost deference and respect. Participation in sports can be a wonderful opportunity to display Christian characteristics. [Galatians 5:22-24; Mark 12:29-31; Matthew 7:12] Participation in sports provides excellent opportunities to teach lifelong lessons. There will inevitably be officials who make calls with which we do not agree. There will be disappointments that we need to deal with as a team. These are opportunities which can be used as teachable moments and opportunities to implement Christian principles.
Further, we should through practice and hard work develop God-given abilities not to attain glory for ourselves, but for our God. If we are given particular gifts remember what Paul states in 1 Corinthians 4:7 - For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it? This is not meant to diminish the contribution of every team member, but is a reflection of the reality that the Creator has distributed talents and abilities differently among his people. However, there needs to be a humble acknowledgment that gifts have been given by God. It is important to remember that the manner you participate in sports as a Christian reflects your heart before God.Play to the glory of God!