"Those That Honor Me, I Will Honor"

An anonymous writer slipped Eric a note. It was a Biblical quotation, from 1 Samuel 2:30. It said, “Those that honor me, I will honor.” It must have given him great encouragement, for Eric had just turned his back on a lifelong dream because of his conviction.
Eric was fast. He had worn the red and white of the Scottish rugby team, using his sheer pace and long legs to “burn” would-be defenders. He was a sprinter, too, one of the fastest men in Britain.
And he was a minister in the solid and staid Church of Scotland. I often wonder how many boys and young men were influenced to see Christianity as a manly lifestyle when they saw their rugged sports hero win races … and proclaim his faith in Christ.
Eric was on the British team that went to the 1936 Olympics in Paris. The track and field week began with heats, qualifying rounds for the one hundred yards sprint final at the end. Eric Liddel was a favorite to win a gold medal.
But Liddel’s heat was scheduled for a Sunday, and no God-fearing Presbyterian minister could play games on a Sunday. This young man was put under intolerable pressure, from family, teammates, and country. Why not run, just this one Sunday? Why not increase your influence for God by winning one more race? Why not compromise conviction, just this once?
I often wondered what that young man must have felt like that Sunday. While he was in church, someone else was winning the qualifying heat. Eric Liddel, rugby champion and Olympic hero drew his strength from somewhere other than his physical prowess. There were matters of greater importance to Eric than a mere Olympiad played out before the eyes of the world. Though his actions no doubt baffled his countrymen, and infuriated his team mates, no one was in any doubt about one thing: There was no one in Eric Liddel’s life more important than his God!
So when Christ calls on you to give up an hour or so on a Sunday, tell me, please, will you be giving honor to God … or be off to the races?

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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2 thoughts on “"Those That Honor Me, I Will Honor"

  1. Nice story – and a quote that is so meaningful in so many ways! Just one correction: The Olympics Eric ran in were in 1924 in Paris. He came from a family of missionaries. He was destined to follow in his parents footsteps and served in occupied China during WWII.

  2. Thank you dear Lord for all the Eric Liddels you have sent us, they truly make us want to be better people. <3

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