Writing in the 1st century AD when the games-mad Romans flocked to cheer their heroes in the ampitheatres they built everywhere, the Apostle Paul offers this wise gem of advice to his young assistant Timothy:
‘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 v 8)
A fit body has limited value if our soul is in poor health! Strong muscles are more of a potential danger on someone who is morally weak! What good is winning in the short-term if we lose in the end?
In 1 Corinthians 9 v 24-27 Paul uses sport imagery again to speak of the benefits of spiritual self discipline:
‘Do you not know that in a race all the runners run but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.’
Trusting our heavenly ‘Coach’ Jesus Who gives us strength by His own Spirit, we pray and strive to become like Him, exercising His strong combination of integrity and compassion, encouraged by the promise of sharing His everlasting glory!