It’s nearly impossible for me to watch my favorite team play football without having some sort of issue with the officiating. It’s either “How could he miss that call?” or “How in the world could he make that call?” No matter what they decide, if it goes against my team, the officials are obviously incompetent or have been paid off to throw the game.
As a young man, I did some officiating at the very amateur level, and I can tell you, it’s a thankless job. You simply can’t please everybody. Yet you must make a decision. There were times when I knew I had gotten the call correct, but the players and their supporters were still brutally critical. I concluded I didn’t have the stomach for it, and I abandoned officiating.
Criticism is common
It’s a bit like trying to live a Christian life in a world growing increasingly secular. If you make the right moral decision, you may be ridiculed and called prudish, old-fashioned, holier-than-thou, arrogant, condescending. You know you’ve made the godly choice, but the result is criticism, not praise.
A football official has to have strong faith in his judgment even if nobody in the stadium or on TV seems to acknowledge it. As Christians, we must have a strong belief that living God’s will for our lives is better than blending into the flow of popular thought.
Fortunately, God’s Word is full of such encouragement. In Deuteronomy 31, God says, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” First Corinthians 16:13 states, ” Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.” In Philippians 1:20, Paul writes, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Mercy and forgiveness
So the next time you are tempted to stand up in your living room and throw a pillow at the football official on the TV screen, remember he is just trying to summon up the courage to do what he thinks is right. Give him some good ol’ Christian mercy and forgiveness.
Unless, of course, his decision costs your team the game. In that case, he is obviously a bum.