In 1924, Eric Liddell made headlines when he refused to compete in his strongest Olympic event, the 100 meters, because the qualifying heats were held on Sunday.
Liddell was a deeply committed Christian. Like many in his day, he believed that Sunday should be set aside for worship, not worldly pursuits. While those who agreed with his convictions supported him—and the British Olympic Association unsuccessfully attempted to get the International Olympic Committee to change the date of the 100-meter heats—Liddell was not universally praised.
Yet Liddell was prepared to sacrifice his dreams of a 100-meter gold medal for the sake of his convictions.
Like Eric, we live in a world that can be hostile toward our convictions. Behavior once considered shameful is now thought of as “normal.” We’re constantly confronted with profanity, sexually suggestive material, opportunities to cheat or steal. It’s not easy to take a stand for the things that we believe in. But Jesus said, “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven” (Matthew 10:32). Clearly, God honors those who honor Him.
It’s a truth Eric Liddell understood.
When officials couldn’t convince him to run the 100 meters on Sunday, Eric agreed to train for the 200 and 400 meter events. In true storybook finish, Liddell won two Olympic medals, the bronze in the 200 meters and the gold in the 400 meters—setting an Olympic record in the process.
As he ran, Eric Liddell recited Romans 9:33 over and over again: “Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (KJV).
That’s a verse we can draw strength from today!