14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. (James 1:14)
Millions of kids, and most of their parents, are striving to make it big in sports. They are dedicating long hours of practicing and driving and devoting thousands of dollars to the cause. For some the dream is an NCAA scholarship and for some even beyond that to professional sports. What a dream that would be – getting paid to participate in the sport you love. What athlete wouldn’t want this for themselves, and what parent wouldn’t want this for their child? But a Chicago Tribune article, Go figure: Pro athletes giving in to temptation, asked the question: “Do you really want your kids to grow up to be professional athletes?”
The article addresses the incredible temptation that professional athletes face. “Look, if there are women waiting at the team hotel every time you arrive on a trip, how long before you start thinking it’s like room service?”, asks the author Rick Morrissey. He also quoted former world record-holder in the 100-meter dash, Tim Montgomery, who said “You get caught up in the achievements. You get blinded and make really bad mistakes.” Morrissey isn’t surprised that professional athletes or even star college athletes give in to temptations and make bad decisions. “The surprise is how many parents are pushing their kids with the idea of college scholarships or lucrative careers in sports. The pursuit of excellence is a reflection of the best and worst in us, and it’s been leaning toward the worst for a while.”
There is no sin in desiring to excel in sports, whether that be in high school sports, getting a college scholarship or even going professional, however it is prudent to be wary of the temptation that surrounds this success, and the “sin that so easily entangles” (Hebrews 12:1b). As Christian athletes, beyond undertaking in physical and mental training; it is crucial to train spiritually, otherwise you will be ill-prepared in the heat of the battle. It is crucial to understand sin. Sin seems to be a topic that few people want to talk about, yet it is mentioned over 400 times in the Bible, so clearly it is something God wants us to talk about.
In today’s scripture, James addresses temptation. 13 When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; 14 but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. 15 Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death (James 1: 13-14). This is important theology. It is against God’s nature to tempt us, yet in his permissive will he allows us to be tempted. We can blame Satan for temptation, but the reality is that we allow ourselves to be “dragged away” and “enticed”. Many temptations can be avoided by making wise decisions; other temptations we can’t avoid and are just a part of life, but we have a choice of what we do when we face the temptation. As someone once said about temptation, “we may not be able to avoid having a bird land on our head, but we can avoid it making a nest”. We have a choice of whether we fight the temptation or allow it to drag us away. 13 No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13). Will you take the way out or be dragged away? Your choice!