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As this article is being written, the Olympic games are in high gear. Swimming, boxing, and gymnastics are already being contended, with track and field events, plus a variety of others, yet to come. I must admit that I enjoy watching these games. As a Patriot I enjoy
watching the athletes from the United States compete, and I can get a
little emotional listening to the Star Spangled Banner being played.
Yet this year, I have been overwhelmed with a sense of the vanity of it all. Thousands of hours, and millions of dollars have been spent to prepare Altanta for this event. Countless more hours and untold amounts
of money have been spent by the athletes themselves and their respective homelands in order to prepare the competitors for their brief moment on the stage. And for what? The International Olympic Committee hopes that this will help the world to live in peach and harmony. Yet after 100 years of olympiads, the world is more strife-torn than ever. Wars and rumors of wars abound, and they will continue until the millennial reign of Christ.
But what about the athletes themselves? The vast majority will return home with good memories of a job well done, and nothing else. The best may win a medal, which will ultimately tarnish. I have known one Olympic gold medalist, wrestler Ben Peterson. He kept his medals in a box in a drawer, and rarely got them out, and then only if he could use them as a lesson in delivering a sermon. A select few will make money in commercial endorsements, but for most of them, they will be completely forgotten one year from today.
Yesterday, swimmer Janet Evans gave an interview after failing to qualify for the finals in her event. She made a statement to this effect: "Sure I'm disappointed; I worked the last four years for this, and I didn't make it." Imagine! She spent four years in preparation for this one moment, and had nothing to show for it. Actually, she has been training much longer than four years. Many of these athletes have spent their entire lives in pursuit of Olympic gold. And suddenly, its over. And what have they accomplished that has any lasting value at all?
Perhaps this is why Paul told Timothy that "bodily exercise profiteth little, but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come" (I Timothy 4:8). Paul understood that the body was the temple of the Holy Spirit, and thus should be cared for. Yet he wanted Timothy to understand that it
was godliness that really mattered, and that our time and treasure and effort should be devoted to the pursuit of Christ, not the pursuit of Olympic gold. He taught the Corinthians that the crowns of the athlete corrupt and pass away, but the crowns of the faithful, fervent, follower of Christ are incorruptible and eternal (I Corinthians 9:24-25).
Which crowns are we seeking for? Most of us will never make an Olympic squad, but we will shower our time, money, effort and praise upon things that won't matter one bit in eternity. May we be faithful in seeking "first the kingdom of God and His righteousness," and devoting our lives to the pursuit of our relationship with the Lord and our service unto Him.
Mark J. Montgomery