December 4, 2017
By Paul J Banta
1 Corinthians 9:25-27 says, “You’ve all been to the stadium and seen the athletes race. Everyone runs; one wins. Run to win. All good athletes train hard. They do it for a gold medal that tarnishes and fades. You’re after one that’s gold eternally. I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” – The Message
The Apostle Paul’s was saying he fights hard to race for Christ through rigorous training. We physically and mentally train players rigorously, so they can run faster, jump higher, or strike a ball quicker and more accurately, defend our goal so none scores on us so we might win the match. But Paul is talking about disciplining our mind so that when we serve our Heavenly Father and His Son Christ, we can be more consistently and efficiently! Paul also taught that it was necessary to develop our minds into a positive part of our body, to prepare ourselves to guard against sin so we can be useful in this game we coach. He wrote Philippians 4:8-9 and it says, ” Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.” – The Message
Paul knew that, where our minds are concerned, it’s ‘garbage in, garbage out.’ That is, if we allow our minds to be filled with the garbage the devil tempts our thoughts, words, and actions, we will inevitably do stupid things! Conversely, if we fill our minds with Godly words, thoughts, action and Godly behavior will result. We’ll be on target and the path He has designed for us. God intends for each of us to do His will, serve in His kingdom and win that next match and not just be wandering about. Remember our faith without work is dead or our efforts without the hope don’t work. They must be combined trusting the Lord for everything. Some pretty hard stuff from the Master as it goes against our nature. We are responsible for carrying out Jesus Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20 where we read “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit, and teaching (coaching) them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
The game of soccer is a great place to do this work. God provided you to coach for two purposes. Bring your players to a Biblical belief in Christianity and win matches. We can’t all be overseas coaches, missionaries, evangelists, teacher or preachers. But we can all take the message of Jesus Christ to our friends, family, neighbors, players, and community through your work!
What’s your next move?