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What Price Honouring God?

Category Articles
Date July 14, 2014

People were amazed and critical then and they would be exactly the same today. Here was a star of the British Olympic team, one of the favourites to win the gold medal in the 100 metres, declining to run in the heats because they were being held on a Sunday. The reason? His Christian convictions. The Lord’s Day was for worship and rest, not for athletic competition. And Eric Liddell would not be moved. The heats took place without him and in the race the following day, the gold went to someone else.

Costly, wasn’t it? An Olympic gold was every bit as desirable in the Paris Games of 1924 as it was in the 2012 Games in London. Who wouldn’t want a stab at gold? But for conscience’ sake and for the Lord’s sake, the opportunity was given up.

Fast forward to 2008, not to the Beijing Olympics, but to a far less prestigious event. A girls’ soccer team has qualified for a national cup final. It is a remarkable achievement, because they are from a small rural school, they have some very young players, and they have beaten off some formidable opponents. Then they learn that the final is to be played on a Sunday. Representations from parents, the school, the local council, and politicians are made to have the day of the event changed, but the tournament organisers refuse to budge. The upshot? ‘Because the final was scheduled for a Sunday’, writes the local minister, ‘the girls, and all those associated with the team felt that they could not participate’. He then adds this: ‘The school is proud of what the girls achieved and prouder still of the fact that, despite their obvious disappointment, they were prepared to abide by their principles and the values of their community.’

What price honouring God? For those who love sport and who perhaps have considerable talent, it can be very high indeed. So many sporting events are held on a Sunday now that Christians who are committed to keeping the Lord’s Day holy may find that the limit to which they can go is all too quickly reached. They may well be unable to realise their full potential and achieve the success levels of which they are evidently capable. And that is hard. It will often mean deep disappointment (and not just to the young athletes themselves), and may lead to misunderstandings, criticisms, and the forfeiture of other opportunities.

And of course sport is not the only area where sacrifice may have to be made. Participation in recitals, musicals, plays, and other performances, and working certain jobs, may be perfectly fine on the other six days of the week. But the Christian who would honour the Lord by keeping Sunday special knows that they are off limits to him on the Lord’s Day.

The Lord himself would assure us, however, that such sacrifices will never leave us the losers. What we have given up for him he will certainly in some way or other make up to us. His promise is that ‘those who honour me I will honour’ (1 Sam. 2:30). Believers will always be the richer rather than the poorer for their decisions to please the Lord.

Many of you know the sequel to Eric Liddell’s sacrifice. He entered for the 400 metres, knowing that it wasn’t his best distance. On the morning of the race one of the British team masseurs passed him a note which he read at the stadium: ‘In the old book it says, “He that honours me I will honour”. Wishing you the best of success always’. By Liddell’s own testimony, that act and note had a profound effect on the outcome of the race. Not only did he win the gold, he set a new world record! Honouring God had been costly for him. But was he the loser by it?

I cannot say how the Lord will honour you. But he will, if you faithfully honour him. Can I especially appeal here to the younger people of the church? Love the Lord’s Day and fence it around. Keep it special from morning till night as the Lord intends that you should. For study, for homework, for your jobs, for sport, for rehearsals and performances, for watching a movie, you have six other days in the week. Use those days for those things and set apart the Lord’s Day for worship, for rest, for your family, for Christian service. It is in that way that you will honour God. Yes, it may be costly – perhaps very costly – but you have the promise of God himself that those who honour him he will honour. He will certainly bless you for any sacrifice that you may make for him and for his Day.

And parents, will you not take the lead in this by keeping Sunday special yourselves and encouraging your children to do the same? They need godly examples. What better ones for them to have than their own parents! Let them see in you how deeply God’s holy Day is to be loved and what a special day it is to be and how precious a gift it is. We do our children no favours when we fail them in this. We do them the greatest service when instead they discern in us that attitude to the Lord’s Day which the Lord himself so loves.

The following titles are recommended.

Notes

    • Call The Sabbath A Delight
      price £4.50

      Description

      People were amazed and critical then and they would be exactly the same today. Here was a star of the British Olympic team, one of the favourites to win the gold medal in the 100 metres, declining to run in the heats because they were being held on a Sunday. The reason? His Christian convictions. […]


    • price £5.50

      Description

      People were amazed and critical then and they would be exactly the same today. Here was a star of the British Olympic team, one of the favourites to win the gold medal in the 100 metres, declining to run in the heats because they were being held on a Sunday. The reason? His Christian convictions. […]

    • Rest in God

      Rest in God

      A Calamity in Contemporary Christianity

      by Iain H. Murray


      price £2.00

      Description

      People were amazed and critical then and they would be exactly the same today. Here was a star of the British Olympic team, one of the favourites to win the gold medal in the 100 metres, declining to run in the heats because they were being held on a Sunday. The reason? His Christian convictions. […]

David Campbell is pastor of Grace Baptist Church, Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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