Lesson from the Sideline

Yesterday, we were at Jesse’s soccer game where Jesse’s team dominated. Neither team scored, but our team really should have won. We kept getting it to the goal and then choking. The other team played hard, but the ball stayed on our side of the field most of the night. One of our players was injured and had one of his knees pop out of socket. Fortunately, his mom was a doctor and was able to put his knee back into place.

But while our team member was still lying on the field, I heard one of the opposing team’s dads who had already been yelling at our players, the refs, and his own players say loudly, “Well, they got what they deserved.” He went on to explain why this middle school kid lying on the ground, hurt, was what “we” all deserved. I was stunned at his callousness.

The opposing school happens to be one of the strictest schools in the area, known for its extreme legalistic rules. I said to Jeff, “It seems like the more legalistic they are, the meaner they are.”

Just look at the Pharisees though. They were mean. They would rather Jesus keep their rules than have Him show compassion toward anyone. He made them look bad, and it made them angry…angry enough to kill Him because He didn’t do what they wanted Him to do. They were furious when He ate with the riff-raff, ragamuffin sinners. And Jesus responded to the Pharisees by saying, “I’m after mercy, not religion.”

Our player stayed on the ground for several minutes. I was glad to see that the loud parent who stated what we all deserved was one of the ones who helped our player by getting ice for his knee. So maybe he realized the stupidity of his statement after all…because we all say stupid, hurtful stuff. And, at times, we all act like self-righteous Pharisees. I believe it’s Tim Keller who says that not only do we have to repent of our sin, we must also repent of our self-righteousness. So, even though I’m not stuck in strict legalism any more, I do tend to get stuck in my own self-righteous pride, and it’s then when I have to remind myself that Jesus looked on the multitudes (even the loud mouths) and felt compassion…mercy.


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