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True Humility and the Christian Sportsman

Gavin Peacock

    Sports people tend to live on edge because they are under pressure to perform. You have, maybe a ten year career at best, maybe a two or three year contract as security. But you could get injured in the next training session and lose your place in the team or even be dropped through bad form. In many ways sport is a microcosm of life, bringing into view intense highs and lows in a short space of time.You are the hero on a Saturday and lauded by the press and by Tuesday you are the villain ridiculed by the same press and in danger of losing your place in the team. Worry, fear and anxiety haunts the sportsman so much. The subsequent depression leading to suicide, alcoholism, and other addictions in football have been much in the news lately.

1 Peter 5:6 says,  "Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you."
    So what is the connection between humility and being free of anxiety?

    “Casting anxieties” is not a new command in addition to “Humble yourselves”, it is a participle. It enriches our understanding of what it means to humble oneself. It defines it. Humble yourselves…BY casting your anxieties on God.” The way that we become humble is by casting our anxieties on him.
   Humility is not just the act of self denial and servanthood. That is its outward form seen in our actions towards teammates. It is primarily the inward positive action of living dependence upon God for help with everything. After all he gives grace to the humble. He is the God of all grace (v. 10)
   It makes sense to say then that pride would keep us from trusting God with our cares and burdens. Pride is unbelief; lack of faith, trust. Trust or God dependence is then the essence of humility. Casting your anxiety on God is depending on God.  Casting your anxiety on God is not something you do after you humble yourself. It's something you do in order to humble yourself, or as a means of humbling yourself.
   Now why is that the case? Why is freeing yourself from anxieties, cares, burdens, fears, worries the pathway to humility before God and others?
  The answer is that the great stumbling block to putting others ahead of ourselves and considering them more important than us is the concern of who will take care of you? What about my problems, my suffering, my loss, my pain, my needs. Who’s going to meet them?
  And of course the answer to that question is, God will. True humility is an inward disposition of dependancy upon God to meet all of your needs, because his hand is mighty and because he cares. When you humble yourself under God's mighty hand by casting your burdens upon him, it frees you to serve others out of fullness.
   That’s the seed of true humility; absolute God dependence. And the sign of that is when people pray.  Because prayer is that inner trust turned outwards to God in words.

   Worry is rooted in unbelief. To the anxious person, God either is not able to carry your burden or he does not care enough. "Why don't we pray? Our view of our own might is too big and our view of God's might is too small. Humility says "I am not able but God is able. Let God have the glory as the giver and may I have the help as the needy one."

   For the Christian sportsman, true humility is found in God dependency not self sufficiency. It is also truly freeing to be able to let God carry the concerns of fitness, form and the unknown future. So grow in humility as you cast your anxieties that each week brings upon the mighty and caring God who did not even spare his own Son for your sins.