“Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.”
– Proverbs 18:12
For the past month, the eyes of the world have been focused on soccer and the World Cup. National pride and gut-wrenching match play have been center-stage for millions to see. Oddly enough, it was a loss and not a victory that caused fans of the sport to take notice. Japan, a team few expected to have great success, reached the round of 16 and had powerful Belgium on the ropes taking a 2-0 lead. Belgium rallied to tie the match and then scored a late goal to stun the Japanese team and their fans. It was a devastating way to go out, but what the Japanese players and fans did next made a lasting impression of great sportsmanship and honor. Pictures spread quickly of a Japanese locker room that was left spotlessly clean. A thank you note was left in Russian, thanking their hosts for an amazing experience. Even the disappointed Japanese fans took the time to clean their area of trash and debris before leaving the arena. Why was this such a big story—because it seldom happens?
A Japanese fan had this explanation. “It’s a part of our culture. Japanese school children would have also done this. After a school day, they clean their classrooms.” Honor is another word for respect. Japanese players and fans honored the sport, their country and themselves with their actions. In doing this, they earned the respect of all those who witnessed their display. In a world where so many athletes are self-absorbed and prideful, we caught a glimpse of what sport could and should be. The Bible warns us that pride come before the fall. When we strive to stay humble in our daily walk, the world will notice and God will be honored.
Heavenly Father, may I honor You today in all my thoughts, words and actions. Keep me humble Lord. Amen.