1:12 “That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine.”
Romans 1:12 (ESV)
Anthony Muñoz, Hall of Fame tackle, Cincinnati Bengals (1980-1992)
Anthony Muñoz was a freshman in college when he heard about the gospel of Jesus Christ.
How can this be? A popular athlete in high school, he lived in Southern California among millions of people. But it’s true.
“I never heard about Christ until I went to college,” he said. “And once I heard about it, I knew I wanted to live for the Lord.”
Anthony, inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1998, was a standout high school athlete and drew attention from dozens of recruiters. He decided to accept a football scholarship at the University of Southern California, where he also played baseball.
One by one, God started to place people in his life who would expose the 6′6″ and 278-pounder to the Christian message of salvation through Jesus Christ.
“I sat down with a staff member of Campus Crusade for Christ (Cru) one day, and he started to ask me questions,” he said. “He asked me about how my freshman year was going and about my grades and football.”
Then the Cru staff member inquired about his spiritual life.
“I said it was okay, but it was non-existent,” Anthony said. “I didn’t know what he was talking about.”
Then a teammate transferred into USC and began to talk about Jesus to the future 11-time Pro-Bowl selection.
“God used so many people to get to me,” Anthony said. “That’s why I always tell about His mercy on me and His greatness. I want everyone to have the same Lord.”
“That is, that we may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith, both yours and mine” (Romans 1:12 ESV).
Do your teammates know about your allegiance to the Lord? If they were asked to describe you, would the word “Christian” come to mind?
Don’t worry if they don’t know about your faith, you are not alone.
If you are a professional athlete, you must juggle your professional obligations along with your responsibilities to share the life-saving message of Jesus Christ. In society, you must be careful what you say because you could get fired or sued.
But at the same time, you want to give a positive witness about your relationship with Christ and invite others to experience true happiness and salvation. You don’t have to be overbearing to get your point across. But your friends and co-workers need to know where you stand, and it is simple and easy to talk about your faith with them.
Your lifestyle should not leave people any doubts about your devotion to your Lord. Live pure and set a good example to draw others to Him.
If you are guilty of not representing Christ as you should, then start today to make a change. Ask the Lord for forgiveness, and dedicate your life to Him.
“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16 ESV).
Identify yourself as a follower on social media. Every post does not have to include a Christian connotation, but some are good. Post a Scripture verse you like, or invite your friends to a service at your church.
Change your profile to include the word “Christian,” and put a link to your church’s website.
Give back and volunteer: This is a great way to encourage those who need help. You can do this once a month at a local food shelter, or give your time to your church. Volunteer to help on the bus ministry or in an area that interests you. When you become involved, you are accountable to your church leadership.
“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace” (I Peter 4:10 ESV).
Invite a person to church each week. This can be done through a private message on social media or a text. Just a few simple words will suffice.
Anthony did not hear the message of salvation through faith in Jesus until later in his teen years. God sent several people to make sure he knew about His saving grace.
Make a point to say a kind word or do a good deed that will encourage someone. Plant a seed and watch it grow.
*You can read more devotions like these condensed ones in First Down Devotions: Inspirations from NFL’s Best by Del Duduit