I never played a sport when I was young. We lived out in the country and farmed, so my parents did not have time to run me into town for practices and games. However, when I went to Middle School, I did try out for cheerleading, which was held during the school day. I made the squad, leaving my parents no choice but to let me cheer (Of course, they were happy for me).
There was one activity that I was able to talk my parents into when I was in the fourth grade – baton twirling! I was a Tennessee Twirler! One of my best friends and neighbor was a twirler, so I got to ride with her to practices and competitions. The picture below was made on the day we marched in my hometown’s Christmas parade. Behind me is my garage and our family’s Bar-B-Que Restaurant. This picture was taken facing the north side of my house in 1976.
My girls played soccer and cheered. Now, I have grandsons, and my eldest is playing Little League baseball. He is an all-star, and we’ve just won the district championship for 4 and 5 year olds.
I had heard that parents can get pretty rowdy at these events, and in coming to the end of the season, I have witnessed it first-hand. My daddy was noting the other night about how we ride our kids down to the game in car seats, throw them out on the field and expect them to play like little men. Clearly, our fans sometimes get carried away as if they were at an adult sporting event. It’s hot, tempers flare, and sadly sometimes, an argument or fight breaks out.
Just the other night we had some moms get out of hand at the concession stand. It all started with one saying something and then the other saying something back. Then some shoving pursued, and then the police were called to stay for the next game of the same two teams (double elimination play-off). Such a shame.
Even Christians can get involved in petty arguments and altercations at work, games and unfortunately, even in church business meetings. This blow at the game made me think about a scripture that many may have a hard time understanding and furthermore, living out.
“but I — I say to you, not to resist the evil, but whoever shall slap thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other;” Matthew 5:39, Young’s Literal Translation
I like to think that for the sake of my example at a kid’s baseball game that this scripture is saying that if a fan from another team is yelling unpleasantries at your team’s fans, look away! Just turn your cheek. If they said it in one ear, let them say it in the other. Obviously, this is more difficult when in a one-to-one situation, but the essence of this scripture is still true – avoid being easily offended and reacting badly.
“The plain instruction is, suffer any injury that can be borne, for the sake of peace, committing your concerns to the Lord’s keeping. And the sum of all is, that Christians must avoid disputing and striving.” Matthew Henry
God wants His people to know how to de-escalate situations. When we yell back or make loud disparaging remarks for the other team to overhear, we are not representing Jesus. When in church meetings, we are adamant that people hear our point, we would do well to remember how God wanted order in the church when He instructed this via Paul:
“In the case of prophets, let two or three speak and have the rest evaluate what is said. And if some revelation comes to someone else who is sitting down, the first one should be quiet”. 1 Corinthians 14:29-30.
In this example, a prophet hops up to speak while others are already prophesying. Paul directs the first prophet who began prophesying to sit down when this happens; otherwise, there may be an argument about who gets to remain standing. Again, a clear picture of someone insuring that an altercation is avoided by de-escalating a potential situation.
The next time you are in a situation where you are prone to react, remember to de-escalate by turning the other cheek, sitting down “and submit to each other out of respect for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).
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Award-winning author Gina Duke is a wife, mother and Director of Women’s Ministry at her local church. Gina is also a speaker with a B.S. in Organizational Leadership. She is able to bring a clear word for authentic Christian living. Through her book, “Organizing Your Prayer Closet: A New and Life-Changing Way to Pray” (Abingdon Press), she imparts 1 Peter 4:7 with the gift of structured prayer journaling. Gina also blogs and offers numerous videos and resources at GinaDuke.com. You may also follow her on Twitter and Instagram @TheGinaDuke.
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