He was on track to be the world champion. Having qualified to the 1924 Olympics, Eric Liddle was able and prepared to crush the 100m sprint on the world stage.
But there was a problem; one of the races was on the Lord’s day - Sunday.
Eric was a faithful Christian who recognized that God had made him a fast runner for His glory. But Eric reasoned that if he ran the race on Sunday and won, the attention of the world would be focused on his speed, instead of his Savior. And so, despite pressure from his peers, Eric forfeited the race.
In my last post, I discussed the importance of setting a good example. But how do we make sure we are setting a good example? The best way to set a good example is to take the high road. Eric’s decision illustrates a critical decision where he chose to take the high road. But he’s not the only one—all of us will be forced to make similar decisions.
Often when we are faced with the option of pursuing some evil activity or sin, we decide not to do the wrong thing. But that’s not what taking the high road means. As my pastor often explains, “taking the high road is not about choosing between the good and the bad (anyone can do that). It’s about choosing between the good and the best, and always choosing the best.”
For example, in 1 Samuel, King Saul was commanded to utterly destroy the Amalekites. But he choose instead to spare some of the best livestock, purportedly to make sacrifices to God. But the prophet Samuel warned him, “Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams”
(1 Samuel 15:22). Offering sacrifices was a “good” thing to do, but, in this case, it was not the best.
Jesus said, “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19). We shouldn’t have an attitude of “can I ____, and still go to heaven.” That type of reasoning could be used to justify lying, stealing, adultery, and even murder if we look at the example of David alone. Sure, we can still go to heaven, but let’s not arrive there. Having our work tried by fire (1 Corinthians 3:11-16), with nothing to lay at Jesus’ feet!
Take the following case: Someone hurts you deeply. You could A) gossip to all your friends about what happened, B) not gossip - just keep all the bitterness inside, or C) forgive the other person. Option B might be better than A, but forgiving the other person is truly “the best.”
We are called to take the high road – the narrow, difficult route – the “road less travelled by.” Why? Because in the end, it will make all the difference.
As an example, let’s return to the story of Eric Liddle. Thankfully, Eric was able to still compete – in the 400m sprint, an event he had never competed in before. And he did not just compete – he won – and set an Olympic record! And, even better, when the newspapers reported the story, they included the details about his forfeiture and his faith. Thus, Eric’s decision allowed him to use His God-given gift to glorify his God. Best of all, He was able to run and win without soiling his victory and his conscience. And after the races were over, he followed God’s call and became a missionary to China, where he served faithfully until his death. He was mightily used by God because he chose to honor God in even the seemingly insignificant decisions of life. He took the high road.
No small compromise is as small as we think it is. When we are faced with a decision, we should not ask “can I do this as a Christian?" but “should I do this as a Christian?"
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About Nathaniel Hendry
I blog on common social issues from a reasoned, conservative Christian perspective in easy to understand writing. I am committed to academic excellence in writing and supported by solid reasoning and research.
About A Worthy Word
The Worthy Word isn't mine, but God's. I just try to explain the truly Worthy Word and encourage you from it.