Not Our Referee

| 01 July 2020

Grandma and Grandpa couldn’t believe what they’d witnessed. Their twin granddaughters’ soccer team had made it to the finals. In the first half of this back and forth game, Sadie, twin number one had scored a goal and the girls kept the other team scoreless. In the second half, with less than five minutes to play, the other team tied it up. Nerves flared for the twins’ team and the confidence they felt moments before seemed to deflate. Then, not two minutes after the following kickoff, Bree, twin number two, trapped a ball perfectly with her inner foot just after the other team’s goalie tried to clear the ball and send it deep. The goalie mis-kicked it somewhat and Bree was in the clear. She sent the ball forward just a few steps, followed after it and just before the closest defender arrived she kicked it over all the defenders, including the goalie, straight into the top of the goal!

Everyone celebrated the score and it was a great moment for their family. Not only was this the championship game, but it was the first time Sadie and Bree had both scored a goal in the same game. Moments later, the referee blew three long blows on his whistle and everyone on the twin’s team and on the sidelines celebrated again. The unbelievable part of the story is what happened next. The referee declared the game a tie at two to two, announced that the game was over and both teams would be the champions of the league. The twins and their team were shocked. They didn’t understand, the coaches were mad, and Grandma was fearful they might start a brawl with the referee or the other team’s coaches, with Grandpa leading the charge.

Something happens in our souls and can happen in our society when unfairness is clear. It rubs us wrong to say the least. This can be a problem when we start to see God as our heavenly referee. Fairness is not his goal for this life, is not the same thing as justice and is nowhere near close to mercy, grace, generosity or compassion. We often look for what we think will be fairness and then find it hard to understand when God’s generosity blesses those who clearly haven’t earned the love and acceptance he bestows. Never forget, none of us earned it.

In the parable of the generous landowner, it is easy to put ourselves in the shoes of the workers who worked all day for their agreed upon wage only to see workers who only did one hour’s work get the same pay. God isn’t our cosmic referee, making sure everything feels fair. Jesus says that this is what the kingdom of God is like. 

“He answered one of them, ‘Friend, I haven’t been unfair! Didn’t you agree to work all day for the usual wage? Take your money and go. I wanted to pay this last worker the same as you. Is it against the law for me to do what I want with my money? Should you be jealous because I am kind to others?’” Matthew 20:13-15

Jesus is generous with his grace and mercy and it is good for us to follow in those footsteps. How can we bless others this week with our time, talent, and treasure on this earth?

Pastor John Riley
Junior High Ministry