There is no better place to examine teens’ character and maturity than at a Friday night high school football game. It is during this nearly ritualistic type atmosphere that the careful observer can find a vast array of attitudes, ethics, and unique perspectives on what is considered acceptable behavior by the student body. Please note that the same holds true for those in attendance who are past their teenage years.
First of all, notice the people who actually watch the game. Are they cheering their team or criticizing the referees? Are they throwing out insults at the opposing players or offering praises and encouragement to the home team?
James 3:7 (NIV) teaches us that: “All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles, and creature of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” So although we may never reach perfection in what we say, we can understand, and through the power of Christ, regulate the venom that comes from our words.
Next, take a look at the people who have come to the game but have no interest in watching the opposing modern day gladiators toss the premium cowhide leather around the well manicured grid. Are these non-spectators visiting with friends, a noble activity, or are they in attendance only to promote their own popularity and reputation, often wearing eye-catching clothing and a little too much cologne? Are their voices loud and attention seeking or quite and reserved?
Proverbs 3:34 (NIV) reminds us that: “He (God) mocks proud mockers but gives grace to the humble.” Friday night gossip and self-adulation may have more consequences than just the cost of admission to the game. Someone very important is watching, and I don’t mean the principal! God sees our works, our choices, and our folly.
Finally, take a careful look at the two teams competing on the field. Are the young men listening to instructions? Are they full of determination regardless of the outcome of each play, or do they curse the other team and become angry when the game gets away from them?
James 1:19 (NIV) tells us: “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.”
After making these observations, do not try and sit in judgment of the characters observed on this Friday night. That is not the purpose of this exercise. This observation and analyzing should result in a better you and a better me. It is easier to see negative behavior when it is executed by others. With God’s strength and our commitment, there is no destructive behavior that cannot be overcome. But we must be willing to admit our faults and weaknesses. That is the first step in remaining on the narrow path Jesus wants us on.
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Wow. I must say that caught me by surprise. Just last week, I was at my son's team's first scrimmage game. I sat behind a woman with many children and listened to her tell her (approx 10 yrs old) son on multiple occasions to stop cursing and to stop blowing his nose onto the floor of the stands. I became much more frustrated with the mother than I did with the son. But who am I to put myself in the place of judging mother OR son? That little slap on the back of my hand hurt, Brother. LOL. Seriously though, I do think now that I can back up and pray for that family... and for myself too for that matter. HOW TIMELY OF THE LORD!