What does the Bible say about football?
Football is one of the most violent sports in the 21st century. Every play that you watch, there is a serious chance of injury. This type of violence brings up the question, can a Christian play football? While it may be violent, there have been many Christians who have played the game of football. This list includes Reggie White, Tim Tebow, and Nick Foles. They gave us great examples of what it looks like to be a Christian who played football. While the Bible does not say anything directly about football, we can still learn a lot about football from the Bible. Here is what you need to keep in mind as a Christian who plays football.
Christian quotes about football
“He died for me. I play for Him.”
“I am someone that is very competitive. When I’m on the field, I compete. When I’m practicing, when I’m in meetings. I’m a competitor in everything.” Tim Tebow
“I’ve never made football my priority. My priorities are my faith and my dependence on God.” Bobby Bowden
“God calls us to use our abilities to our greatest potential for His glory, and that includes whenever we step on the field. “It’s not to beat the guy next to you; it’s to recognize it as an opportunity from God to reveal His glory.” Case Keenum
Playing football for the glory of God
Any sport, including football, can be a very me-centered game to play. On Sunday, you often see the professionals point to themselves after making a big play. Their ability centers on them being great. However, a Christian realizes they do everything for the glory of God.
1st Corinthians 10:31 says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God”.
Whatever a follower of Jesus does, they do for the glory of God. Football players do that by thanking God for the ability to play, celebrating God’s creation instead of worshiping it, and using football as a platform to point to Him. That means a football player is not playing so he can receive all the attention but so they can point to God’s goodness.
1. 1 Corinthians 10:31 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
2. Colossians 3:17 “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.”
3. Isaiah 42:8 (ESV) “I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.”
4. Psalm 50:23 “But giving thanks is a sacrifice that truly honors me. If you keep to my path, I will reveal to you the salvation of God.”
5. Matthew 5:16 (KJV) “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
6. John 15:8 “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, proving yourselves to be My disciples.”
7. Philippians 4:13 “I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”
8. Luke 19:38 “Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
9. 1 Timothy 1:17 “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
10. Romans 11:36 “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever! Amen.”
11. Philippians 4:20 “To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
12. Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Football training and spiritual training
Football training is worth some value. It helps us live healthier lives, build mental strength, and build relationships with each other. While football training is of some value, spiritual training is of much more value.
1st Timothy 4:8 says, “for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.”
In the same way football training leads to better football players, spiritual training leads to deeper followers of Jesus. Often football training can help give us some of the tools we need to follow Jesus. For example, football training such as a 3-hour practice takes some extreme dedication and mental toughness. The mental toughness that is developed in football can be transferred over to following Jesus when things get hard.
13. 1 Timothy 4:8 “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”
14. 2 Timothy 3:16 “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
15. Romans 15:4 (NASB) “For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
16. 1 Corinthians 9:25 “Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.”
Winning a football game with humility
After winning a big game, you often see a coach getting a cooler of Gatorade dumped on top of them. This is a way football teams celebrate wins. It is a longstanding tradition in football. While we should celebrate wins, we should do so with humility.
Luke 14:11 says, “11 For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The only reason someone gets to play football ,and win the game, is because of the hand of God in their life. While a team wins because of all the work they put in, it is only because God gave them the ability to do so. Winning a game with humility instead of pride is God-honoring.
17. Luke 14:11 (NKJV) “For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
18. Philippians 2:3 (NIV) “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.”
19. Zephaniah 2:3 “Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, who do his just commands; seek righteousness; seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the anger of the Lord.”
20. James 4:10 (HCSB) “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.”
21. Philippians 2:5 “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
22. Proverbs 27:2 “Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips.”
Losing a football game with control
Losing at any game can be extremely frustrating. Especially a game as demanding as football. With all the emotion that happens in a football game, it can be easy to lose control and get upset after the game. However, Christians should have self-control.
Proverbs 25:28 says, “A man without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls.”
In this proverb, an angry man with self-control breaks down all the walls around him. While it felt good to get his anger out, he is left with no walls to live between when he is done. While losing a football game, it can be easy to do the same thing. However, we must realize that life is bigger than the game of football. When someone loses, they should lose with control.
22. Proverbs 25:28 (KJV) “He that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken down, and without walls.”
23. Proverbs 16:32 “He who is slow to anger is better than a warrior, and he who controls his temper is greater than one who captures a city.”
24. 2 Timothy 1:7 “for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
Getting back up on the football field
It is no surprise that you spend a lot of time on the ground as a football player. You will be hitting someone else or they will be hitting you. Jerseys will be covered in mud from head to toe. If you have not ended up on the ground, you probably did not play too much.
Proverbs 24:16 says, “For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity.”
The true sign of a Christian is not that they do not sin and fall. The sign is that when they do fall, they get back up. When they get back up, they run to the feet of Jesus in need of forgiveness. When it comes to football, you will fall time and time again. However, you must get back up, reset yourself, and get ready for the next play each time.
25. Proverbs 24:16 “For though the righteous fall seven times, they rise again, but the wicked stumble when calamity strikes.”
26. Psalm 37:24 “Though he falls, he will not be overwhelmed, for the LORD is holding his hand.”
27. Micah 7:8 “Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.”
28. 2 Timothy 4:7 “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.”
29. Isaiah 40:31 “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”
Encouraging and inspiring your teammates
Football is the ultimate team sport. If one player misses a block, the QB will get hit in the backfield. You must be a team of 11 players working together to accomplish a goal if you want to play successfully. Multiple points during a game one of your teammates will mess up. How should a Christian respond at that point?
Romans 15:1-2 says, “We who are strong have an obligation to bear with the failings of the weak, and not to please ourselves. 2 Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up”
It is the job of those in high positions to encourage their teammates after bad plays. By building them up, you are getting them ready to continue the following play. Teams who tear each other apart when mistakes are made have a hard time succeeding. If you can not work together by building each other up off the field or on the sideline, you will not be able to play as one on the field.
30. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
31. Romans 15:1-2 “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up.”
32. Hebrews 10:24-25 “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
33. Ephesians 4:29 “Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building up the one in need and bringing grace to those who listen.”
34. Proverbs 12:25 “Worry weighs a person down; an encouraging word cheers a person up.”
35. Ecclesiastes 4:9 “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor.”
36. Philippians 2:3-4 “Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves. 4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.”
Being a good example as a football player
Football players are often looked up to as heroes. That could be young kids looking up to NFL players because they want to be them one day. That could also be people in the stands watching a player on Friday night at a high school game. Football players often represent their city and community. The truth is they represent so much more than that. They should also represent God.
Ephesians 5:1-2 says, “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.”
Christians are to be imitators of God. Not because they are trying to earn the love of God but because they are children of God. They do this by walking in love and sacrificing their lives for others around them. Football players should live their life in the same way as God. Since they are often seen as role models, they should be excellent examples of a follower of Jesus.
37. Ephesians 5:1 “Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children.”
38. 1 Timothy 4:12 “Let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.”
39. Matthew 5:16 “In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.”
40. Titus 2:7-8 in all things show yourself to be an example of good deeds, with purity in doctrine, dignified, sound in speech which is beyond reproach, so that the opponent will be put to shame, having nothing bad to say about us.
While football is a sport with violence and hard hits, it does not mean a Christian should not play. Being a Christian football player comes down to honoring God as you play.
Matthew 5:13-16 says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
No matter where a follower of Jesus is, they should be salt and light to the world around them. They should be a reflection of God to those who are watching. That is why Christian football players win with humility, lose with control, and follow the rest of the things listed above. By doing those things, the people around them see a reflection of the God of the Bible.