“[T]hem that honor me I will honor, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed” (1 Samuel 2:30b).
If you’ve ever seen the film, “Chariots of Fire,” you know that it relates the story of Eric Liddell, known as “The Flying Scotsman.” Eric was a world-class sprinter and was Britain’s best hope for winning a gold medal in the 100 meters at the Paris Olympic Games in 1924. Eric was also a committed Christian and was planning to be a missionary. He even wondered if his love of running might be a distraction from his Christian service. After much prayer and consideration, he came to the conclusion that, “When I run, I feel God’s pleasure.”
He wanted to do his best for God and country, but he discovered that the trials for the 100 meters were to be held on Sunday, which violated his conviction that the Lord’s Day was holy and, therefore, not a day for athletic competition. He refused to run in the 100 meters on Sunday, although he was under considerable pressure to participate in the race. Instead, Eric chose to run in the 400 meters, a race four times the distance he was used to running.
Just moments before the 400 meter race began, as he was settling into the starting blocks, an American Olympic Team member handed him a piece of paper on which was written the words of 1 Samuel 2:30, “Them that honor Me I will honor.” Liddell ran the race with the verse in his hand and not only won the Gold Medal, but set a new Olympic record, as well as a new world record with a time of 47.6 seconds. God did indeed honor him.
Eric Liddell left athletic success behind and went to China as a missionary, working as a village evangelist in a dangerous region not suitable for his wife and two daughters who remained behind. In 1940, the Japanese invaded China and Eric Liddell was imprisoned by the Japanese. While in this internment camp, Eric continued to do his evangelistic work and taught the Bible until he died on February 21, 1945, at the age of 43.
The apostle Paul spoke of the runners in his day who took part in the games and said, “Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown [a wreath of leaves]; but we an incorruptible” (1 Corinthians 9:25b). When he stood before his Savior, Eric Liddell received far greater reward than a gold medal. He could say with the apostle, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
It is an indisputable fact, spoken by the Lord Himself, that those who honor God will be honored by Him, while those who despise Him will be “lightly esteemed,” or dishonored and treated with contempt.
Remember this verse given to Eric Liddell and follow his example of honoring the Lord. You will be glad you did!