You’re probably familiar with the Christmas song Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Consider this line about Santa: “He sees you when you’re sleeping; he knows when you’re awake. He knows if you’ve been bad or good so be good for goodness sake.” As a kid, reflecting on this song was kind of frightening. Santa’s always watching me. He knows every time I disobey my parents, antagonize my sibling, or I’m just bad in general. This “truth” about Santa made me more than a little concerned that there might not be any presents for me under the tree on Christmas morning.
Christmas is really about how God has come to us through his Son, Jesus. If Santa’s coming stirred some fear in me based on how he conducts his business, what about when God comes to town? If God operates like Santa (giving us what we deserve), we’re all in real trouble: “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standard” (Romans 3:23). What we honestly deserve is not only the equivalent of complete emptiness under the Christmas tree – we all deserve to pay the just sentence for our sin and rebellion against God.
In light of this, what happens instead when God comes to us in Jesus is so amazing! Returning to John 1:14, one of the verses from the last week’s devotion in which John refers to Jesus as “the Word” (meaning, God’s ultimate self-expression): “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus, God’s Son, comes “full of grace.” What does this mean? “Grace” is not giving us what we really deserve (the just punishment for our sins) – but it goes even beyond that. “Grace” is actually giving us the opposite of what we deserve. Jesus, out of grace, rescues us from the punishment we deserve for our sins, gives us new and eternal life when we were spiritually dead because of our sins, and restores us to a love relationship with God when we had made ourselves God’s enemies through our sins. Jesus comes full of grace to people (you and me) who don’t deserve it and could never earn it.
Experiencing the grace of Jesus is a game-changer as a coach. At first glance, coaching and grace may feel incompatible. There’s no grace when it comes to the scoreboard at end of game. There’s often very little grace when it comes to how people evaluate your coaching. Yet when your trust is in Jesus who is Immanuel (“God with us”), you know that he is with you in the fullness of his grace – including in your coaching world.
Here are two implications of the truth that Jesus, who is full of grace, is with you:
- You’ve been set free from the burden of trying to earn God’s favor as a coach or in any other area of your life. You are a dearly loved child of God because of the grace of Jesus. Rest secure in his unchanging love and grace. This frees you up to live and coach for Christ as a loving, grateful response to him – not because you feel the weight of attempting to earn his favor.
- Be a channel of the grace of Jesus to others. As a coach, you have a unique and powerful sphere of influence. Utilize your influence to give people a chance to experience Christ’s grace through you. This doesn’t mean that you don’t hold your players accountable when they violate the standards and values of your program. But as you carry out appropriate discipline, you can still affirm your love and commitment to your players. Out of gratitude for Christ’s grace toward you, be generous with your love and grace even to the most “undeserving” on your team.
This Christmas, celebrate the reality of God in Jesus coming to us – and coming full of grace. Coach as one who is a grateful recipient of the grace of Christ.