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"Football is not a matter of life and death, it is more important than that."

Bill Shankly, Liverpool Football manager

Righteousness

Abram [Abraham] believed the LORD and he credited it to him as righteousness. Genesis 15:8

This short verse, very early in the Bible story, teaches us so much. We know that we cannot earn salvation or even God’s favour by our own efforts or achievements. Our salvation, based on the death of Jesus, is totally of grace – a gift from God. What we can do, is to believe. Abraham, an old man, had no children yet God told him that his descendants would be easier to count than the stars in the sky. At face value it did not seem very likely, not the kind of proposition to commit your life to!

The idea that a sinful person like me can be forgiven and offered the chance to live with God forever seems just as ridiculous – if not more so. But the Bible makes clear that if I believe the LORD then it will happen.

So many people struggle to accept salvation based on grace. They think they have to earn God’s favour, that good works will get them to heaven. While we know that is not true, it’s easy to fall into the temptation. I have heard athletes say: “I got injured because I didn’t go to church last Sunday... If I had prayed more I might have won the race”. Of course it is good to go to church regularly, and to pray. But not to earn God’s favour. The only way that we can “earn” God’s favour and claim our status as righteous is by believing God’s word.

Sport is a gift from God. Go out and give it all you’ve got – in training or in competition. But sporting achievement does not define you. What defines you as a person is believing God’s word and being righteous in his sight. That will set you free to compete for all you’re worth.

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