Welcome to “Athlos” a weekly Wednesday blog which examines pillars of personal excellence and regularly brings together the worlds of spirituality and sport.
Love your opponents
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”-Matthew 5:44
Have a heart for your opponents
It happens every so often that amid darkness, the beauty of the human spirit brings much needed light. Last week in the English Premier League, West Ham United played against Aston Villa. The significance of that game, however, was not only the fact that a player from Ukraine played, but he also scored!
Indeed, Andriy Yarmolenko, scored the opening goal for West Ham who went on to win the game 2-1. It does not end there. Some of the fans from Aston Villa, the opposing team, actually applauded his goal. Imagine that. Someone scores a goal against the team you support, and you clap. This is magnanimity at its best. Well done, Aston Villa fans.
It seems to me that those fans kept the bigger picture in mind, and they recognized as the West Ham manager, David Moyes, said that there are more important things in life than football. Those opposing fans appeared to have been moved by Yarmolenko’s courage and tenacity during a crisis in his native country.
The way that we treat those who oppose or offend us is a mark of both our spiritual and emotional maturity. Jesus himself called upon his followers not to mistreat enemies but rather to love and pray for them. This is a high expectation but surely possible if we remember that our sovereign God has the long view in mind.
I end today’s blog with a confession. Throughout the Russia-Ukraine conflict, I had not been praying for Russia but only for Ukraine. A few recent conversations reminded me of Matthew 5:44 above and I decided to pray for both countries. I know it is the right thing to do although my heart still has to catch up with my mouth.
Pray for your opponents
Consider some of your toughest relationships today and pray for those people.
If you were inspired by this blog, please consider sharing it with one other person today. To learn more about these and other related themes that promote the cultivation of an integrated inner self, read UNBEATABLE! which is available on Amazon in print and as an e-book.