“Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.” — Galatians 5:25
There are so many demands on life: work, family, kids. But for me, there’s nothing more important than staying in the Spirit. While everything else may be pressing down on me, I find life and strength to press on when I’m filled with God’s Spirit. It’s only then when I’m able, not only to function for my own, but to pour out to those around me and fulfill the responsibilities God’s given me.
If I come out of step with the Spirit, I run dry. I have nothing to pour out to the people around me. I’m simply trying to focus on myself and how to survive the daily grind. As I head into this season, I want to stay in step with the Spirit and let that overflow to others.
Sometimes it’s hard to balance having a job and trying to be the best athlete I can be, while also aiming to have an impact in the lives of those around me. As a professional athlete, I’m responsible to fulfill my role on the team and work at it with all my mind and body. I have to make sure this aspect of my life is buttoned up really well so that I can influence those in my path.
The easy thing would be to only focus on myself and my career. I know God’s gifted me to play football and I want to excel at that, but He’s also gifted me to impact those around me through the game of football. I’m continually trying to be knowledgeable and aware of these things so that I can say, “Lord, You’ve entrusted me with this and I’ve been faithful with it each step of the way.”
For me, and the other guys on our team who are Christ-followers, it’s very convenient to share about Jesus Christ and our relationships with Him in an interview or on TV. This doesn’t take much of an extra effort. But when I look at my own life, I know that the biggest thing Jesus has done for me is pursue me on a daily basis. Because of His pursuit of my heart, I know His love deeply and uniquely.
In the same way, when we as His followers go to where people are, step into their environment, and show them the love of Christ on a personal level, we can have a much greater impact in their lives. By making an effort to come to them, get to know them, and serve them the way they need to be served, we can be Jesus to them.
As professional football players, we are careful about spreading ourselves too thin. We want to make an impact for the Kingdom of God by being His hands and His feet, but we also can’t say yes to every opportunity that comes our way. By being in touch with the Spirit and listening to His still, quiet voice leading us, we can know when to say yes and how to respond to those in need. In simple things, such as going downtown to serve at a food kitchen or going to a college campus to show younger men and women that we care about their futures, we can serve the way Jesus did.
I can still remember when Reggie White came into our hometown while I was growing up. He shared about his faith in Christ and it made a huge impact on me. Someone I really esteemed, who played the sport I loved, was sharing about what was most important to him. Similarly, I remember when Mike Singletary came to speak at our church. He later became known to me as “coach” when I signed with the 49ers. But the seeds planted in me at a young age by these men really grew; they left a great impression on my life.
You never know what seeds are being planted, and how God will water those seeds, when you say yes to Jesus’ call to be bold with your faith. What opportunity can you say yes to?
— Chris Maragos, Philadelphia Eagles safety
The Increase, part of the Sports Spectrum Network, is a community of Christian pro athletes sharing their personal stories of the decrease of self and the increase of Christ (John 3:30). Visit TheIncrease.com for more stories and videos.