CORRECT COMPETITORS (Olympic Lessons 13) 2 Timothy 2:5
“Sir, you are the greatest athlete in the world” King Gustav V of Sweden said to Olympian Jim Thorpe after he won both the pentathlon and decathlon in 1912 at the Stockholm Olympics. But the next year he was stripped of his gold medals because he had broken the rules by earning $25 a week in minor league baseball a few years previously. He was sad the rest of his life. However, in 1982 grace was shown to him and his medals were restored. But he had died 30 years earlier. He hadn’t competed according to the rules and he paid the penalty.
There are many rules surrounding athletic competition and the Olympics. Lynford Christie had 2 false starts in a sprint race and was disqualified. If a relay team member passes the baton outside the zone the whole team is eliminated. There are rules about how to sign up, what to wear, how to compete and virtually every detail of competition. If you break the rules, there is no medal.
Ten months of preparation was required to participate in the ancient Olympics. This included a strict diet and exhaustive training. If these weren’t done the participate was disqualified. If anyone participated unlawfully or not in good sportsmanship they were also dismissed from competition. The rules had to be obeyed.
The same was true in Paul’s day. Just like in sports, if a Christian breaks the rules there are penalties to pay (2 Timothy 2:5; Luke 13:24; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Colossians 1:29). Similarly, if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules (2 Timothy 2:5). Competing according to the rules, in sports and Christian life, is required if one is to be victorious.
What rules does God have for us in life? Aren’t we under grace, not law? Yes, but even under grace we are commanded to submit to God and obey Him. Living for Him is our first priority in life. God has always required obedience from His followers (Exodus 23:21; Deuteronomy 27:10; Jeremiah 7:23).
The Jews were promised blessings for obeying God (Deuteronomy 11:27; Job 36:11) but negative consequences for disobedience (Deuteronomy 11:28; Jeremiah 11:3-8). Abraham obeyed God and God blessed him with prosperity and descendants (Genesis 22:18; 26:5). The angels always obey God (Palm 103:20-21). However, Pharaoh refused to obey God and let the Jews leave Egypt (Exodus 5:2) and suffered many consequences. Sons who disobeyed parents were to be stoned to death (Deuteronomy 21:18). Disobeying God cost King Saul his throne and life (1 Samuel 15:19, 24).
Obedience is based on faith and trust. If there isn’t obedience, there isn’t faith in God (Acts 6:7; Romans 16:26). Serving God means obeying God (Joshua 24:24), and obeying God shows faith in Him (Hebrews 11:8). In fact, God says obedience shows love for Him (John 14:15, 23; 1 John 5:3). If there is no obedience, there is no love.
Isn’t it strange that everything God created obeys Him except man? The sun, moon and stars obey and move in their respective orbits. The earth rotates and revolves. Seasons come and go. Only man does not obey. Instead, man tries to get God to obey and serve Him. That’s not competing according to the rules and participation with God will never be allowed. God loves it when we obey Him (John 15:4, 10; Deuteronomy 5:10; Psalm 103:17-18).
Obedience comes by listening to what God says in His Word and then applying that truth to our lives. Athletes don’t get to pick and choose which rules they want to follow and neither do we. We must obey all God tells us in His Word. Ready it. Study it. Apply it. Obey it. God requires these things for our own good, like a loving parent to his child. Compete to the best of your ability, but do it correctly.
Are you learning more and more about God and what He says in His Word? Which Bible commands are the hardest for you to follow? Why? What can you do today to follow them better?
cto Rev. Dr. JERRY SCHMOYER
Christian Training Organization
(India Outreach, Spiritual Warfare, Family Ministries, Counseling, World View)
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