“Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). Do you wonder what that looks like? Eric Liddell, the famous gold medalist in the 1924 Olympics, knew what that means.
Liddell was born in 1902 to Scottish missionaries in China. His athletic talent emerged in high school in England. He entered the University of Edinburgh in 1921. It was there he became known as “The Flying Scotsman” for his abilities on the track.
During his college years, the Glasgow Students’ Evangelistic Union planned an evangelistic rally in a small coal mining town nearby. They reached out to Liddell to speak at their event. At first he agreed, but soon had second thoughts. He was comfortable on the track and in the classroom, but not behind a pulpit. As the day of the event approached, he received a letter from his sister Jenny, saying, “Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness” (Isa. 41:10). Liddell said, “Those words helped me make my decision and since then, I have endeavored to do the work of the Master.”
Encouraged by the crowds and the results, he joined the Glasgow group, and began to speak in more rallies. Liddell said, “My whole life had been one of keeping out of public duties, but the leading of Christ seemed now to be in the opposite direction, and I shrank from going forward. At this time I finally decided to put it all on Christ – after all if He called me to do it, then He would have to supply the necessary power.” God gifts and equips us to glorify Him.
The 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire” focused on Liddell’s refusal to run on Sunday in the Paris Olympics. As he prepared for a different race, a trainer handed him a note: “It says in the Old Book, “Him that honours me, I will honour.” (1 Sam. 2:30). He won the race pulling away, setting a new world record.
Liddell’s gift was that he was fast; his heart’s desire was to glorify God, and that carried him back to China as a missionary. He served the Chinese people and his fellow missionaries, even while held in an internment camp by the Japanese during WWII. He gave from his athletics, education, and possessions. In 1945, Liddell died of a brain tumor while in captivity after giving up his place in a prisoner swap to a young expectant mother.
God has given you the gift of life, abilities, resources, and knowledge that He can use to advance His Kingdom. Your purpose is to “do all to the glory of God.” You only have one race to run, and this is it.