“As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love.” — John 15:9
Being dedicated to your sport can cause you to do some crazy things. Let’s spend a few minutes talking about how much you love your sport and how that plays out in your life.
- What is the hardest thing you have given up for your athletic career?
- Was the sacrifice worth it? Explain.
You’ll do anything to keep playing the sport you love. There’s so much enjoyment and benefit you can gain through competition. But through Jesus, there’s something even better—a love that will last forever!
Here is an easy way to start sharing God’s love with others. . (Pass out the “FOUR” bracelets now.) I want you all to look at your bracelets. There are four symbols on each one. Can you tell me what the symbols are? (Heart, division sign, cross, and question mark)
These four symbols are an easy way to tell the Gospel to your friends. The first symbol is a heart which stands for God’s love for us. The division sign stands for sin, and when sin entered the world, it separated us from God. The cross stands for Jesus’ sacrifice, which provided a way for us to be reunited with God. Then last is a question mark. This is where each person must decide if they believe the first three symbols are true. Each person gets a chance to have Jesus in their life, but they must choose to follow Him in their own heart.
(If they haven’t put their bracelets on, tell them to put them on.) Now you all have a way to share God’s love with all your friends!
In a world where competitors often feel the pressure to be great at all costs, it is common for individual achievement to overshadow personal sacrifice and selfless love.
But it’s so inspiring to hear stories about athletes giving up a starting position, refusing to take advantage of an opponent’s injury, resisting the temptation to take credit for someone else’s hard work or gloating over another team’s failure. We are encouraged by sacrifice and selflessness.
A great example of this took place in 2014 when Eckerd College softball player Kara Oberer hit a three-run homer against Florida Southern College pitcher Chelsea Oglevie. But when Oberer rounded first base, her knee buckled and she fell to the ground in pain. What happened next was an absolute display of love and respect. Oglevie and a teammate rushed to Oberer’s side. They helped her get up and carried her around the diamond, stopping so she could tap each base and home plate.
Those actions came from the selfless love that originates with God. We first see this love in Scripture:
“Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.” — 1 John 4:7
- What is the most inspiring act of selfless love you have seen in sports?
- How do you view sacrifice?
There is no greater love known to man than the love Jesus displayed when He died for us. It was His purpose in life to live without sin and become the perfect sacrifice for our sins. Jesus was brutally beaten, publicly humiliated and then nailed to a cross. And even through all of that, He showed love and forgave His executioners before taking His final breath. God sent Jesus to earth knowing this would happen. It was all part of His plan to redeem mankind back to a relationship with Him:
“But God proves his own love for us that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” — Romans 5:8
Not only can you experience God’s love through Jesus’ sacrifice, but you can also remain in His love every day and experience the blessings Jesus pours out. The apostle Paul teaches us what that looks like in real life:
“Love is patient, love is kind. Love does not envy, is not boastful, is not arrogant, is not rude, is not self-seeking, is not irritable, and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love finds no joy in unrighteousness but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” — 1 Corinthians 13:4–7
Thanks to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, God’s love can be an extension of who you are as an athlete and through every aspect of your life.
- What does Jesus’ sacrificial love mean to you?
- How does His sacrifice impact your life and the way you play sports?
God’s promise of salvation is only possible because of His greater love for you—even to the point of sacrificing His own Son. Here are three ways that accepting and embracing that love should be expressed in your life:
- Love gives all. Sacrifice means doing whatever it takes to help others and show them how much God loves them. — John 15:13
- Love forgives all. It’s one of the hardest aspects of love, but God requires us to forgive others just as He has forgiven us. — Ephesians 4:32
- Love endures all. You will face adversity, opposition and even hatred in this world, but God’s sacrificial love gives you the strength to overcome everything that comes against you. —1 Corinthians 13:7
To learn more about the FOUR, go to thefour.fca.org.
Close in prayer.