Those of you that know me know that I love football! So, you can imagine how excited I was to get home from Celebrate Recovery on Sunday Night to watch the second half of the Super Bowl. While I was sad it was the last football game for a few months, I did enjoy it being a close game. It actually came down to the end, where the referee made a (bad) call of Defensive Holding - giving the Rams another chance to win the game. Replays showed this was a questionable call, people in my living room screamed at the tv about the call, and we may have asked God to smite the referee for making that call.
I thought about the guy defending the pass, who was called for the penalty. What was going through his mind on the next play? Was he afraid to get back in there again and defend the end-zone? His hands got him in trouble once already, so was he a little unsure of how physical he should be? Did he second-guess his decision-making (and pass-defending) ability?
I think I know how that defender felt. I've never played in the Super Bowl, and I didn't even really play football that long (I had a brief stint as a Quarterback in Middle School). But, I have been "flagged" for using my hands before, and I remember how it felt when I went to do that again. As a Christian, there have been times where I have tried to do the work of God with my hands and got penalized for it. This can happen when we get close to people and try to help them with their habits, hang-ups, and hurts. Sometimes, they don't like the effort you're going to - either through the words you say or the work you do. They cry out or lash out or walk out, without ever understanding or appreciating the help you're trying to give them.
Even when we don't want to, we have to think about what we do and what we say to our "neighbor". Once we come to Jesus and become a member of His body, there are certain expectations (rules) that we have to abide by. Break those rules, and you can get penalized. Sometimes we can face those consequences even when we did the right thing, but that's when we have to trust God to bring about an outcome that brings Him glory!
I think our world (those on our "team" and even those who oppose us) needs to see us thinking about how we treat others. They need to see us talking with and praying for and submitting to each other. And hopefully, that work we are doing will move them to want to become a part of our body, too. Apostle Paul says it this way:
"Therefore each of you must put off faslehood and speak truthfully to his neighbor, for we are all members of one body....He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need." (Ephesians 4:25-28)
So, the next time someone accuses you of doing something wrong with your hands or saying something wrong with your mouth, don't let that take you out of the game. Get right back in there where God has placed you, and then do what He brought you there to do. You may get hurt, you may be falsely accused, and you may even get punished. God will see you do something useful with your own hands, and He will watch over you for doing it. But I'm still waiting on Him to do something about that referee!