Mind Your Own Business
by C.A. Phillips
Ah, sports talk radio. It’s mindlessly entertaining much of the time, and maddening nearly all of the time. There are no shortages of opinions to be sure, and ratings are typically fueled, either by controversy, or the home team playing poorly. Yet, still I listen.
If you’ve been keeping up with the latest sports news, you’ve likely seen or heard that Kyler Murray, 2018 Heisman Trophy winner, has announced that he will forego his pursuit of playing Major League Baseball, and will instead turn his attention to a career in the National Football League. I remember facing a similar decision in my youth: do I collect baseball cards or football cards? OK, well, maybe that isn’t quite the same.
Murray is incredibly gifted as an athlete. To be presented with the opportunity to establish a career as a professional athlete is quite the feat in any sport, much less two of them. I can imagine how grueling of a decision it has been for him. He was drafted in the first round of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft by the Oakland Athletics, and received an impressive signing bonus. And, the A’s graciously honored Murray’s request to be able to play one year of college football as the heir apparent to 2017 Heisman winner Baker Mayfield at Oklahoma. But, the A’s, while certainly recognizing Murray’s immense talent, couldn’t have possibly fathomed he would have one of the most incredible seasons as a quarterback we’ve ever witnessed. But, he did. And, he really enjoyed himself along the way. So much so that he decided to give up the prospect of playing in the Majors (not to mention, returning a healthy portion of his signing bonus).
If you listen to sports talk radio, or watch ESPN’s litany of shows featuring numerous outspoken talking heads, you’ve no doubt heard the criticism Murray has received in the wake of declaring his intentions of pursuing his dream of being an NFL quarterback. This week I heard one member of the Atlanta media say that Murray has no credibility.
Seriously? Kyler Murray doesn’t have credibility because he gave up guaranteed millions (in baseball) and a potentially longer career, for one with few guaranteed contracts, where one hit may send him to immediate retirement? He has questionable character because he is chasing the dream that means most to him? Because he had a change of heart after having perhaps the best statistical year of any NCAA quarterback in history?
I understand it’s the job of some media to incite callers and viewers by poking and prodding in order to manufacture controversy. But, the incessant questioning of athletes’ and coaches’ character because of unpopular decisions they make has turned me a bit sour. I believe it would do us all a bit of good if we gave one another the benefit of the doubt, rather than jumping to harmful conclusions.
Throughout scripture, we are warned about the danger our judgments and criticism may cause. We are implored to consider others, love others, to be compassionate toward others, to only judge others with the measure by which we wish to be judged. We’re told, in no uncertain terms, to mind our own business (1 Thessalonians 4:11).
Hang with me a bit longer here. Read this passage in Romans, where the Apostle Paul cautions both the strong believer AND the new believer, to not make assumptions and pass judgment on one another.
Accept other believers who are weak in faith, and don’t argue with them about what they think is right or wrong. 2 For instance, one person believes it’s all right to eat anything. But another believer with a sensitive conscience will eat only vegetables. 3 Those who feel free to eat anything must not look down on those who don’t. And those who don’t eat certain foods must not condemn those who do, for God has accepted them. 4 Who are you to condemn someone else’s servants? Their own master will judge whether they stand or fall. And with the Lord’s help, they will stand and receive his approval.
5 In the same way, some think one day is more holy than another day, while others think every day is alike. You should each be fully convinced that whichever day you choose is acceptable. 6 Those who worship the Lord on a special day do it to honor him. Those who eat any kind of food do so to honor the Lord, since they give thanks to God before eating. And those who refuse to eat certain foods also want to please the Lord and give thanks to God. 7 For we don’t live for ourselves or die for ourselves. 8 If we live, it’s to honor the Lord. And if we die, it’s to honor the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9 Christ died and rose again for this very purpose—to be Lord both of the living and of the dead.
10 So why do you condemn another believer? Why do you look down on another believer? Remember, we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. 11 For the Scriptures say,
“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bend to me,
and every tongue will declare allegiance to God.’”
12 Yes, each of us will give a personal account to God. 13 So let’s stop condemning each other. Decide instead to live in such a way that you will not cause another believer to stumble and fall.
At the end of the day, our beliefs and actions toward others paint a picture of who we really are. We can disagree on things without throwing one another under the bus. Be someone who picks others up, rather than one who serves as a stumbling block.
C.A. Phillips is a lifelong sports enthusiast and youth baseball coach, and currently serves as the Communications Pastor and Director of Men’s Groups at NorthStar Church in Kennesaw, Ga. He lives in Kennesaw with his wife, Amy, and his two sons, Chaz and Chandler.
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