A Lesson of Olympic Proportions

The 2014 Winter Olympiad in Sochi was quite a spectacle.   A lot can be learned from athletic competition.  Through the inspiration of God, the Scriptures draw on athletics to teach several important spiritual lessons. The fact that “the race is not to the swift” (Ecclesiastes 9:11) illustrates that “time and chance” happen to us all.  The admonition to “lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us,” and “run with endurance the race that is set before us ” (Hebrews 12:1) teaches us the need to put forth steady continual effort in order to gain heaven in the end.  And the fact that “we do not wrestle against flesh and blood” (Ephesians 6:12) helps us perceive the true might of our spiritual enemy and our need to rely upon God’s strength.

  Among the greatest lessons athletics can teach is the need to abide by the rules.  The inspired apostle Paul observed that, “If anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules” (2 Timothy 2:5).  In the Sochi Olympics, more than one competitor was disqualified because they did not compete according to the rules.  Some used performance enhancing drugs, while others merely had a couple of false starts or skied off the course.  Whether the infraction was intentional or inadvertent, it caused the athlete to lose their chance for a medal.

  The disqualified athlete may have trained as hard or harder than other athletes.  He may possess more ability, more skill, and even more luck than the others.  But it all counts for nothing if he does not follow the rules.

  What a tremendous lesson this is for those who would run the race for the “crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give” (cf. 2 Timothy 4:8).  A person may be “good” and even confess his love and devotion for Jesus Christ, but if he has not or will not “repent” and “be baptized for the remission of sins,” he is not running according to the rules (Acts 2:38).  He may worship God enthusiastically in song, and yet if he adds a mechanical instrument of music, he’s not abiding by the rules (Ephesians 5:19).  He may give much to the Lord’s cause, but because he does not give cheerfully or as he has been prospered, he is disqualified. 

  The Lord has given us a number of rules for our race.  Let us ever strive to compete “according to the rules.”

 –Steve Klein

Where is it Written in Stone?

  Our culture deplores unchangeable rules.  We don’t like prohibitions and restrictions, and so we want to be able to alter or eliminate them.  This attitude is so prevalent that some advertisers actually try to attract buyers with slogans like “no rules, just right” or “the rules have changed.” 

  Often those desiring to change rules will ask, “Where is it written in stone” that something must be done a certain way?  The implication is that if it isn’t written in stone, it wasn’t meant to be permanent to begin with, and it is therefore subject to change.   The question, “Where is it written in stone?” expresses the desire of man’s heart to change rules or procedures.

  So, rules are changed constantly in virtually every area of modern life.  Some are changed because they are bad or inadequate; but just as often, they are changed because it’s inconvenient to keep them, they aren’t being kept anyway, or somebody complained enough.

  The rules or laws God gave the Israelites in ancient times actually were written in stone.  They were literally delivered on “two tablets of stone” and were “written with the finger of God” (Deuteronomy 9:10; cf. Exodus 34:1).  Choosing the medium of stone as a writing material emphasized the relative permanence of these laws.  By writing with His own finger, the Lord indicated that these laws were of divine origin, unalterable by human hands.

   The Lord Himself did eventually change those rules.  He took the “handwriting of ordinances…out of the way, having nailed it to his cross.” (Colossians 2:14).  He decided to give His people new rules as part of a new covenant. He declares, “I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Hebrews 8:10).  Notice that the new laws would still be written by God and thus be unalterable by man. But they are not written on tablets of stone.  They are written on human hearts. 

    God’s laws today are on the hearts of His covenant people. Since God has written them there, they are not subject to change by humans.  But more than that, because they are written on our hearts, we do not want to change them.  You see, if we are truly God’s people, His laws are part of us.  They are what we want to do!  Regarding His laws, we would never begin to ask, “Where is it written in stone?” because there is no desire within us to change His rules.  We love His laws, and we live His laws. 


 — Steve Klein