“Some things are bigger than sports,” correctly opined David Suggs in sportingnews.com.
We were reminded of this fact (again) as a dramatic, and scary scene unfolded in the first inning during a Little League regional tournament game in Waco, Texas, Tuesday.
With 2 on and 2 out, Texas East pitcher Kaiden Shelton lost grip of a fastball and hit Oklahoma batter, Isaiah Jarvis, on the helmet. Jarvin fell to the ground, clutching his head, as concerned coaches rushed to his aid.
After it was determined that Jarvis was not hurt, he walked to first base. Meantime, Shelton stood on the mound with his head down staring at the ground in tears over what happened.
When Jarvis saw how upset the righthander was, he walked over to the mound and gave him a hug. An ESPN microphone picked up Jarvis saying, “Hey, you’re doing great. Let’s go.”
Jarvis’ gesture of pure sportsmanship, received a standing ovation from the crowd, as well as tears in the eyes of many parents.
Although Jarvis’ team lost the game 9-4, this young man walked away a winner.
Adults could learn a valuable lesson from Isaiah Jarvis. How many times have you seen a hit batter in the Majors issue a retaliation toward the pitcher, either verbally or physically? Or seen the dugouts empty from both teams ensuing in a nasty brawl?
Closer to home, how many of us have had moments where we reacted toward others’ slights, either intentional or unintentional, with an angry outburst? Ugly words? Revengeful thoughts? Aggressive threats? Or passive aggression?
Among one of the most difficult commands of Jesus from His Mountain Message is “bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you” (Matt. 5:44).
In a similar vein, Paul admonished “Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord” (Rom. 12:17-19).
In a professional sports world filled with overpaid, trash-talking athletes, a political arena of pompous politicians hurling crude epithets at their opponents, and cable news talking heads ridiculing and mocking those we ought to be praying for, our culture has lost its sense of civility.
The scene from Waco is refreshing because too often we’ve seen children emulate the poor behavior of the athletes they idolize. We’ve seen parents get in fights with other parents during a recreation league ball game.
Furthermore, in the mid-term primary season, quickly moving toward another Presidential election, the rhetoric is heating up. Often voters follow the example of their leaders with unkind and ill-informed vitriolic language that only incites anger and harsh words.
Unfortunately, Christians are not immune and exempt from this carnal atmosphere of name-calling, coarse language, and crass behavior. We need to be reminded that we are to be a transformed people, not conformed to the attitudes and actions of this world (Rom. 12:1-2). To be light in a world of darkness. And to be the pure, preserving salt in a society that’s become corrupted and impure (Matt. 5:13-16).
Sadder still is when entire churches are disrupted by petty squabbles, partisan politics, and overzealous opinions. What happened to the “one another” commands to be kind, compassionate, forgiving, and loving? And “to live in harmony with one another?”
Relationships have been ruptured, marriages dissolved, and families torn apart due to a harsh response to hurts instead of a spirit of forgiveness and an attitude of reconciliation.
What we need is more Isaiah Jarvis’ in our homes, churches, and communities. When you’ve been knocked down, whether accidentally or purposefully, calmly get up and go give the offender a hug. Either literally or figuratively.
“Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:21).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman