Finding God's Winning Spirit

All Gifts Spiritual

February 23, 2015 | Greg Smith | Sports


 “God called me to save souls ……. He also made me fast”

                                                                                   Eric Liddell


Eric Liddell (the "Flying Scotsman”) was known as the fastest man in Scotland and was the inspiration of the movie Chariots of Fire.   Although he won the 400 meters in the 1924 Paris Olympics, he is best remembered for his refusal to compete on the Sabbath due to his Christian beliefs.  Liddell was dedicated to evangelism and actually died in China as a missionary in 1945. The question here for me is which one of these (evangelism or athletic ability) did he consider to be his spiritual gift?

The obvious answer here for me is both.  Many would say that athletic ability (fast) is not an option because it is not listed as a Biblical choice.  This question provides us with the opportunity to take a look at spiritual gifts; what they are and what they are for.

The place to start, as is often the case when it comes to New Testament theology, is with the Apostle Paul – most spiritual lists are his in the first place.  Paul addresses spiritual gifts in his letters to the Corinthians, Romans and the Church at Ephesus (1Corinthians 12:8-10, Romans 12:6-8 and Ephesians 4:11). Although these lists vary slightly, they are pretty much the same and read as:





Kinds of healings




Exegeses of these verses provide us with a basic understanding of Paul’s view of spiritual gifts. Paul uses words like pneumatika, charisma and diakonia which when translated basically mean “spiritual things given by grace for service”.  Examining these words more closely we can glean that spiritual gifts are freely given by God, are not earned by merit, are worked through individuals, are manifestations of the Holy Spirit and are used to grow God’s Universal Church. It is generally acknowledged that Paul did not list all of the gifts of the Spirit as many Biblical scholars believe that there are as many spiritual gifts as there are needs in the body of Christ.

 We need to free ourselves up from any list when it comes to identifying or maximizing our spiritual gifts. We are specifically made and specifically called.  God has a place for us in His plan and has provided us with unique gifts to accomplish the spiritual tasks at hand. As Matthew says, “…. let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven”.

 Sports Theology® believes that we are all created in His image with unique gifts, athletic or otherwise, and these gifts become spiritual when they are used to glorify God. Spiritually–based athletes know that their athletic ability comes from God and they develop this gift and perform as a testament to Him. Christian athletes use these athletic gifts to bring God’s “marvelous light” to an otherwise dark world. 

   Eric Liddell was not confused by this. I feel sure that his list of spiritual gifts included fast. If his list of spiritual gifts could be that unique and personal what does this mean to other athletes? What possibilities does it bring to you and me?   


 (Except from Sports Theology®: Finding God’s Winning Spirit)

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