It’s certainly been a tumultuous month for the National Football League. Our nation’s most popular sport is in the middle of a crisis. In case you’ve missed it, the public outrage truly hit a fever pitch after the release of a shocking and disturbing video of Baltimore Ravens’ running back Ray Rice delivering a knock-out punch to his then-fiance (now wife). Since then, multiple other players with domestic violence charges or convictions have been suspended or placed on the commissioner’s paid “exempt” list.
The criticism of the League’s seemingly slow reaction to such serious issues has been loud. It hit a high note recently as top-tier sponsors like Anheuser Busch and Pepsi spoke out. Commissioner Roger Goodell addressed the media last week as many were demanding answers. He recognized the problem, his role in it, and the need to revisit the NFL’s personal conduct policy. In fact, he spoke multiple times about the need to revamp this “personal conduct policy.”
As the Commissioner gave his remarks on the issue, I couldn’t help but think about how this applies to all of us, even if we don’t put on the pads on a Sunday afternoon and aren’t governed by the League’s conduct policies.
How often do we forget about our own personal conduct? It reminded me of the passage in Romans 12, beginning in verse 9. In the ESV and RSV versions, it’s even under the fitting heading “Marks of a True Christian.” It’s our own Personal Conduct Policy, and it’s important that we continually revisit it.
“Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor” (Romans 12:9-10).
As I reflect on the sad state of affairs in the NFL, I can’t help but think of all the ways I don’t measure up to this, just as these football players didn’t live up to the NFL’s policies on personal conduct. As a parent, it’s a double whammy when I consider all the ways I fall short in teaching my children.
It’s really just about love and honor, for us as individuals and us as parents. It’s sounds so simple, yet it can be so hard in practice. The Personal Conduct Policy of a Christian is to love (for real), hate what is evil, and outdo each other in showing honor. Reminds me a bit of the words from Micah 6:8: “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?”
It’s easy to talk about love. If it’s real, we should show it. I’ve been trying to teach my daughter that if she truly loves God, her mom and me, she’ll listen and try to do what He wants and what we ask of her. I tell her, God is honored when we obey him and obey our parents (John 14:15 and Ephesians 6:1). I know she loves us, but I want her to see the connection of our hearts to our hands.
“Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
When we love, genuinely, it’ll show. And, when it shows, people will know we are followers of Jesus. “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). I know I could do a better job of loving people.
The word used here for “hate” appears but one time in the New Testament, and it’s in the directive to hate what is evil. There’s nothing good about what we all witnessed in the Ray Rice video. It elicits such a strong reaction for a reason. We must cling to the good stuff and be repulsed by the bad stuff.
It’s easy to talk to your children about love. It’s a little harder to introduce the concept of hate. In reality, you can’t have one without the other. You can’t love good, and not hate evil. We have to start at an early age teaching our children the difference between what is right and what is wrong. Beyond that, we have to urge them to speak up when they see the latter.
If there’s one encouraging thing that has taken place during the recent issues with the NFL, it is that people have taken a stand against something that was wrong, and demanded action. But, how many times in our day-to-day lives do we see things wrong with the world around us and we let them slide?
The word used in Romans 12:10 only occurs here, and is accurately depicted with the phrase “outdo one another in showing honor.” That concept of “outdoing” has really stuck out to me lately. It’s not just about honoring others. Rather, think of it like this: if there were an honor competition, you should try to win it. We should be leading the way, showing others how they should show honor. That’s a pretty convicting challenge.
Imagine how different things would be if we were “outdoing” each other in showing honor. Not to be too “pie in the sky,” but domestic violence wouldn’t be an issue. Our spouses would get the honor they deserve. Lying, cheating, stealing and murder would be a thing of the past. Sounds like a fairy tale kind of place. Fortunately, we can look forward to a place like that. It’s called Heaven. But, while we are here on earth, we should be doing our part to make this place a little better.
The passage in Romans goes on to describe other important marks of a true Christian: patience, prayer, hospitality, humility and more. If we truly loving one another and outdoing each other in showing honor, the other characteristics should flow out naturally.
Most of us don’t personally know those involved in – or accused of – domestic violence any more than we know any public figure. Only God knows a man’s heart. I also believe in forgiveness and second chances. God has certainly given me plenty of them. But, this isn’t about any of that. It’s about each of us trying to live a life that shows love and honor, and teaching and showing our kids how to do the same.
God, help us as we try to do that.
Brent Rinehart is a public relations practitioner and freelance writer. He blogs about the amazing things parenting teaches us about life, work, faith and more at www.apparentstuff.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.
Publication date: September 23, 2014