I enjoyed playing rugby union more than any other sport. It is a brutish physical game where no quarter is given or asked. Foundational to playing was the idea that you always respected the officials – no talking back to the referee, only the captain asked questions (politely) of him.
Last weekend a French national player Louis Picamoles was sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes by the referee for illegal play. He has subsequently been dropped by the team for one match with his coach being scathing in his criticism of the player. The BBC reported it like this
France number eight Louis Picamoles has been dropped for next week’s Six Nations match against Scotland for showing disrespect to a referee.
The forward appeared to mockingly applaud Alain Rolland after the referee sent him to the sin-bin against Wales.
He also gave a thumbs-up gesture as he left the pitch during Friday’s 27-6 loss to the reigning champions.
Coach Philippe Saint-Andre said: “Certain attitudes have no place whatsoever in our sport.”
He added: “Respect is the foundation of our values. It is important to send a signal to all players who have the privilege of wearing the jersey and remind them it imposes duties and obligations.”
What about doing that in our churches? How would it sound if we took a strong stance against ungodly speech, against gossip and slander, back-biting and all malicious words? What would happen if we sent someone in church to the sin-bin for 10 minutes to think about their speech when they have been offensive in what they say?
We come to the Bible, Ephesians 4:29 says,
Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. (ESV)
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. (NIV)
Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. (Msg)
I know we are people of grace and forgiveness – or at least should be if we want God to forgive us Matt 6:14-15 – but just occasionally I wonder if God wants more from us, sacrifice, self-death, purity, Christ-centred living and a tongue that is kept in check?
I realise most churches are reluctant to
speak out take action about such sins. I can only conclude that I have to listen to the Holy Spirit as he convicts me and send myself to the sin-bin for the good of the Body of Christ.