2 Timothy 2:5 Similarly, anyone who competes as an athlete does not receive the victor’s crown except by competing according to the rules. (NIV)
This morning’s news about upholding the Olympic ban on Russian track and field athletes comes as no surprise. A culture of doping athletes in Russia has been going on for decades. The decision by the Court of Arbitration for Sports will probably have some political consequences, but under the circumstances, it was the correct thing to do. Levelling the playing field for all athletes ensures that all the competing nations have an opportunity to gain medals. To win events by cheating dishonors the whole Olympic ideal; hopefully, this punitive ban of one of the major athletic countries in the world may begin a new phase of cleaning up all kinds of sporting events by seriously expelling the worst drug offenders.
When Paul wrote to Timothy about passing on the Christian faith to the next generation, he emphasized the importance of following Christ’s teaching and adhering to His truth. Paul’s example of a successful athlete gaining a crown by keeping to the rules was his way of describing how important it is to live a life of faith by sustaining basic Christian standards. Paul was concerned that the younger generation of Christians might be led astray through following their own ideas and choosing their own options. As an Apostolic teacher, he wanted to ensure that Timothy would maintain the core principles of Christianity so that the faith would grow in strength and influence.
Paul’s words to Timothy are still relevant in our lives and churches today. We have to be careful about what we believe and how we live our faith. The world needs Christ’s compassion, mercy, and love as much now as it did way back then. If we remain true to the teachings of Jesus and continue to follow His ways, we will have the opportunity to make a positive and lasting impact in our communities and across this planet.
Questions for personal reflection
What are my basic Christian beliefs? How do I express them to others?
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Enable us to follow Your Way, embrace Your Truth, and live Your Life so that we may encourage others to do the same. In Your Holy Name, we pray. Amen.
John Stuart is the pastor of Erin Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee. If you would like to ask questions or make comments about today’s message, please send him an email to Traqair@aol.com.
Today’s image is John’s latest Communion drawing called “Fruits of the Spirit.” If you would like to view a larger version, please click this link: Communion.