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Devotional: May 20, 2021

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath.

Do not fret—it leads only to evil.

Psalm 37:8 NRSV

Recently, I was listening to a local radio station when I heard an advertisement/service announcement advising adults to behave themselves at youth sporting events. Rage and anger on the part of parents and fans can be out of control at youth games. The ad went on to ask for a safe and orderly environment at our home sporting events. It’s hard to believe that an ad like this even needs to exist.

I doubt this ad referred to the overzealous parent who yells at their kid to do something different, like “Be more aggressive,” “Dive for that ball,” or “Run faster!…” Many of us have been in the stands and heard this kind of behavior. Mostly, we probably just rolled our eyes at such “coaching” from the grandstand. No, this ad was about parents fighting, punching, and kicking each other!

A few weeks ago, the media carried a story about a youth sports game where more time was spent on the parents' fists flying and harsh words, than the actual game itself. Sadly, more than ten adults were involved in the altercation! It was rage out of control, on public display!

What makes this all the more ironic is after the pandemic shut down all sporting events, you would think everyone would be on their best behavior. We ought to be eager to get back to sports games, and be the most well-behaved fans. Unfortunately, that is not the case.

After hearing the ad, I thought to myself, “How sad that we have to run advertisements on the radio telling people to behave themselves at their kids sporting event!” It is a pretty pathetic commentary on our culture, and the out-of-control anger which many people seem to exhibit.

There is actually an organization devoted to helping people keep their cool at youth sporting events. It is changingthegameproject.com. More on the organization, including an open letter to parents, may be found here:

https://changingthegameproject.com/an-open-letter-to-the-out-of-control-sports-parent-sitting-next-to-me-in-the-stands/

God’s word is quite clear on the subject of anger. We are to refrain from getting mad, as it often leads to evil. In real life, we know that it does. Tragically, some people have been so enraged at youth sports games that fatal shootings have taken place. How out of control is that! Now, I must admit that getting angry can be a very natural response to some things. It is what we do with that angry emotion after we have experienced it that this scripture is talking out.

Some in our culture have bought into the lie that righteous anger leads to good and positive change. While sometimes this is true, and it has worked to reform things which need to be reformed, not all anger is righteous anger. Sometimes it is selfish. Plus, anger often begets more anger, which begets more anger. Voicing and acting in a rage often leads to the generation of more heat, than light.

We always have a choice. God is very clear on this point. The Lord does not make us do anything. We can choose to get mad, be furious, and take our rage out on others. Or we can choose peace. There is always an alternative. Consider this bible verse from Proverbs…

Hot tempers start fights; a calm, cool spirit keeps the peace.

Proverbs 15: 18

Prayer

Lord of all,

Life and this world are filled with events and circumstances which can make us mad. Many on this earth act out of their rage, and often people and property are hurt in the process. We know that You are a loving God, who is slow to anger. Therefore, help us to be more like You. Instead of pursuing the path of angry rage, let us sow seeds of peace. We pray this prayer in the name of the One who is the Prince of Peace, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.


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