It’s that wonderful time of year again when two powerhouse football teams will meet in the classic clash that will ultimately determine who the best team of the season was, and who the best losers were! After that, when pro football fans everywhere realize that our sport is over for seven long months, depression is bound to set in. But don’t worry, the scripture promises us: “the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:17 NASB).
In the spirit of this great week of football, I thought I’d take a look at how we often live our Christian lives as referees.
We spend so much time watching the lives of other Christians around us, always prepared to throw the penalty flag:
“Illegal Procedure! This person wasn’t dressed correctly in God’s House.”
“Offsides! This person went into an establishment that no Christian belongs in.”
“Holding! Hands with someone who is unequally yoked.”
You get the idea. These examples do happen, but there is more of a daily grumbling that goes on, too. It seems that every Christian can’t be perfect in the eyes of every Christian. It is so easy to find something wrong with someone else. With what they do. With the way they talk. With the way they look. With the way they dress. With the way they act. With where they go. With who they are with. Etc. Etc. Etc.
“Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.” (Matt. 7:3-5 NASB).
Another penalty flag I see thrown all the time is:
“Personal Foul. This person claims to have given his life to the Lord yesterday. However, today he is cussing like a sailor. Therefore his experience must have been false.” Wrong answer! This person has just entered a new reality, and all he has ever known has been the prior reality. As Christians, we need to realize that first, there is likely to be some baggage that accompanies the transition. After all, how many Christians still carry baggage years after conversion? Second, as Christians, we should be willing to extend a hand of grace just as grace has been freely handed to us.
When it comes to throwing penalty flags, we need to ensure that they are aimed at the correct targets.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12 NASB).
That looks something like this:
“Encroachment! The enemy is trying to remind me of my past. However, I am saved, redeemed, forgiven and justified. My past sins are no longer held to my charge!”
If we are going to call anyone out, then I think it’s high time we threw the flag at the enemy and penalized him. In football, a penalty puts the offender in a weaker position. For instance, if a 10 yard penalty is assessed against the offense, they will now be 10 yards further back from their goal. I will gladly penalize the enemy as often as possible.
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