The first time we took our son to a baseball game he was not even a year old. We dressed him in a Cardinal uniform and took him into the always packed Busch Stadium. It was the original Busch Stadium where so much Cardinal baseball history happened. I don’t remember who the Redbirds played that day or even if they won. I just remember watching Joe take it all in for the first time. There was Fredbird and cheers and chants, vendors selling hotdogs and beer, the constant noise of the fans and lots and lots of red. Cardinal fans love their red! Our son didn’t really talk yet but he did participate in the noise of the crowd. He cheered a lot but I have to say his favorite part was booing for the other team and the umpires. At the first hint of booing from anywhere within earshot he began making that familiar sound to sports enthusiasts everywhere. Booooooo!
It is such a natural thing for humans to express their displeasure with things. I spent nearly half a century booing the world. I booed this president and that president. I booed my parents, I booed my church, I booed my co-workers. I focused most of my energy on what everyone else was doing wrong or at least what I felt they were doing wrong and led the chorus of boos on their efforts. I became that obnoxious fan at the ball game. You know, that fat guy that never played a sport, the guy that never gets out of a chair and couldn’t run around the living room without passing out, the one that blows cigar smoke in your face and coughs on your neck. He is the one that points out everything everyone on the field is doing wrong. He never cheers, he only sees the negative and the mistakes. He not only sees them, but he goes on and on about every transgression. He could write a book about Stan Musial, and never mention one single good thing Stan the Man ever did.
I was that guy every where I went. I criticized everything that went on around me. I criticized everyone that tried to do anything. I lost the ability to cheer. Booing was my specialty and it was the one thing I was good at. I had no skills anymore. I had lost them all while I sat and watched everyone else live life. I booed everyone else even though they were doing things I couldn’t even begin to do. Being that negative guy is easy. No one does anything perfectly. Getting something done is what counts. It doesn’t have to be pretty and it definitely doesn’t have to get done my way. I fell into the trap of pointing out the bad in good things. This trap is a pit and it is easier just to sit in it and keep booing than it is to climb out and become a part of what is going on around me. To get out of that trap I have to learn to cheer.
Ephesians 4:29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.
How could I claim to be a Christian and feel that I was justified saying so many things that were not good and helpful? I had become an expert at finding what was wrong with everything. I felt I had to let everyone know. What if God wanted me to see what was wrong and get up out of my chair and help make it right? Wow! I would sure be busy.
Deuteronomy 22:4 “If you see that your neighbor’s donkey or ox has collapsed on the road, do not look the other way. Go and help your neighbor get it back on its feet!”
First of all, this does not only mean donkeys or oxen qualify my neighbor for help. Next, God doesn’t expect me to boo the donkey for falling down and my neighbor for not getting to his destination on time. I am called to action not criticism.
Galatians 6:1 Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. 2 Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ.
Helping someone back on the right path is a lot harder than helping a fallen donkey. It is really easy to sit back and talk about how far from God someone has gotten. That is no help to them at all. God is clearly not calling me to do the easy thing here. I have to be gentle and humble, not a couple of my strong points. God expects me to change. I have to do it if I want to get back into the game. Sharing burdens sounds like work. Running my mouth burns zero calories. I have to remember that if I am speaking of what others are doing wrong that I am probably not helping them back onto the right path. They need to hear me cheer. Boos will make them want to give up.
Galatians 6:3 If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.
I don’t know why but I just love the way that verse reads. I am not that important. Today I must shut up and help those that need it.
God, make my mind focus on the good and when I see wrong give me wisdom and courage to help. Make my words please you and be encouragement to others. Amen.