by Shannon Caughey
Coaches recognize that often the best defense is a good offense. What is true in sports is also true in life—including the life of following Christ. In this series of devotions, we are focusing on the role of hope in effective coaching and living. We considered the need to utilize a hope-strengthened defense in the last devotion. We resist the efforts of sin and evil to pull us in through putting on the protection God gives us, including “the hope of salvation as a helmet” (1 Thess. 5:8). Our hope in Christ is our defense against the darkness around us.
Coaching and living for Christ, however, is not just about playing defense. We thrive when we implement good offense—and hope has an essential role in this as well. The Apostle Paul outlines our scheme for offense in Titus 2:11-14 –
“11 For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. 12 And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, 13 while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. 14 He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”
Like most schemes coaches employ, this Titus 2 offense includes foundational principles, what should be avoided, and what must be pursued.
1. Build on these foundational principles: hope in Christ inspires us, grace in Christ enables us.
A good offensive scheme is built on foundational principles. For example, in basketball a key principle might be, “Every time you pass, always screen away.” According to Titus 2, our coaching-and-living-for-Jesus offense is built on two principles. First, we look forward with hope to Christ’s return (v. 13). Our confidence that Jesus will one day bring in the fullness of his kingdom inspires us to live out his kingdom values and purposes in the present—even when those around us are not. Second, since we have already experienced the reality of Christ’s grace when he saved us (v. 11), we rely on his grace to enable us to coach and live for him. We hold fast to these principles day by day: hope in Christ inspires us, and grace in Christ enables us.
2. Intentionally avoid the sin and godless living that dishonor Christ.
Effective offensive schemes typically include directives about what to avoid. In football, you might stay away from plays that run the ball toward the side of the opposing team’s all-state defensive end. To coach and live for Jesus, we must intentionally “turn from godless living and sinful pleasures” (v. 12). This requires swimming against the current of what others are doing, but we desire to avoid anything that dishonors Christ. “He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin” (v. 14). With this hope of experiencing true freedom and with the confidence that Christ’s grace enables us, we resolve to stay away from the destructiveness of sin.
3. Consistently pursue the character and purposes of Christ.
Good offensive schemes also emphasize elements that are consistently pursued. For example, softball or baseball coaches may instruct their hitters to always take a particular 2-strike approach. To effectively coach and live for Christ, according to v. 12 we must consistently pursue wisdom (the understanding of how to apply God’s Word to our specific situations), righteousness (the character of Christ that leads us to think, speak, and act in Christ-reflecting ways), and devotion to God (the resolve to follow the Lord and his purposes at all times). Consistently pursuing these qualities compels us to be “totally committed to doing good things” (v. 14). In all this, we have the hope that the glory of Jesus will be seen through us in our context, knowing that one day his glory will be fully revealed (v. 13).
This is the coaching-and-living-for-Jesus offense that will lead you to thrive. When you put your trust in Christ, you have been saved by Jesus, you can avoid the choices that dishonor Jesus, and you can go after the good purposes Jesus has for you. Motivated by the hope you have in Christ, implement this Titus 2 scheme day by day.
For reflection: What specifically challenged you from Titus 2:11-14? Take a few minutes to talk with the Lord about this. Thank him for the grace and hope he gives you.