1 Timothy 6:1-3 - Let as many bondservants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and His doctrine may not be blasphemed. 2 And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things.3 If anyone teaches otherwise and does not consent to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which accords with godliness, 4 he is proud, knowing nothing, but is obsessed with disputes and arguments over words, from which come envy, strife, reviling, evil suspicions, 5 useless wranglings[a]of men of corrupt minds and destitute of the truth, who suppose that godliness is a means of gain. From such withdraw yourself.
I am an ardent Bears fan. I love pro-football. Even to the point where I can't watch college anymore. (Well, I do at the end of a season, to work out my brain and heart pressure by screaming at the satanic curse called the BCS.)
I have followed a number of NFL players on Facebook and Twitter and followed the latest labor dispute with more than a casual interest. Many of these players are God fearing, wonderful Christians who even use their celebrity to encourage other believers and spread the Good News.
What I have observed over the past few weeks during the dispute has made me a bit sick to my Spirit. I've heard the owners called 'greedy,' 'liars,' and worse. Some have even speculated that the owners are 'evil,' a word some people in our culture still wouldn't use on Osama Bin Laden.
I've contemplated writing this article for the past two weeks since I heard a very famous (minority) TV preacher speak on the scripture above (1 Tim 6). Now, our culture has a hissy fit when we talk about any scriptures that involve slavery (See Adrian Peterson, you are not alone!). But it is important to remember a couple of things. First - God never sanctifies slavery. Even in ancient times, when the mindset of acceptance that this practice existed, it was acknowledged that it was better to be free. John and Abgail Adams wrote to each other during the creation of our country who immorally hypocritical it was to fight for freedom from a tyrant on a governmental scale - but not to acknowledge it on a personal scale.
Regardless, for those of us that believe scripture is OF GOD, we are put in the uncomfortable situation of not being allowed to tear out certain scriptures that, at best, are hard to understand and, at worst, are displeasing to us. To me, this is one of those scriptures.
Without getting into the specifics of the actual points of the labor dispute some with which I strongly agree (long term health care for players) and some with which I frankly don't care - please allow me to point out a couple of areas for my NFL brothers to pray about lest they inadvertently 'blaspheme' the name of God as His representatives.
First, let's make sure we understand what are OUR ideas of 'fairness' and 'rights' and what are Gods'.
- God had his own labor dispute and reinforced an owners right to do what he wanted.. In the parable of Matthew 20, God likens the Heavenly Father to an employer (owner) he paid men a full's days wage the same as those who had worked all day. The early labors objected to the late arrivers being paid the same. But Jesus rebuked them in essence saying - mind your own business! What another gets is no business of your own!
? - Am I saying that unions don't have a right to exist? NO! Unions have served an amazing function from owners who could not be trusted. They also (as the recent case in public unions in Wisconsin) have shown to be very detrimental when they effectively kill a business (or government) for short term personal gain.
+ What I am suggesting is that AS A CHRISTIAN, you will do far more for the cause of Christ to do what Daniel did when confronted with being forced to do something he didn't want. He used GODLY APPEAL. He tried to find out the goals of those in authority and fashion a solution that would meet BOTH parties concerns. (Not coerce, threaten or suddenly pretend their was no union to get their way).
And if that doesn't work - calmly, respectfully take whatever action you must. But be prepared for the consequences. The NFL doesn't OWE you a living. Your blessings come from God and no other. But PLEASE BE CIRCUMSPECT AT YOUR REAL MOTIVES. If you read ALL of the rest of the 1 Tim 6 chapter you will see that God admonishes us to make sure we are not exalting the LOVE OF MONEY in place of HOW we conduct ourselves with those in authority over us.
- God is a God of Responsibility and Profit. Jesus said the Kingdom of God was likened to a man who discovered a pearl ON SOMEONE ELSES PROPERTY, and bought the property so he could obtain it for himself! When I first read this I couldn't believe it. Wouldn't the 'Christian' thing be to TELL the farmer what he had so he could be enriched too? Yet God is a God of agreements. He will honor WHATEVER the agreement is - whether it is fair or not. Perhaps this is why God said it is better to NOT vow a thing, than to do so and renege.
+ The owners have a RIGHT to run their business the way they want. The players have a RIGHT to decide whether to play by those rules or not. Don't like it? Go into insurance or dentistry or try and reform the WFL or UFL. The NFL (despite it's PR) is not in business to take care of players. It is there TO MAKE A PROFIT. AND THE MORE THE BETTER. Just as you have a RIGHT to try and make the most you can. You can decide to sit out your entire rookie year - but don't cry if there are consequences to that.
It is the PLAYERS RIGHT to form a union or - to try and force an employer to do something they want - to decertify and loose their health and collective bargaining benefits, etc. BUT QUIT ACTING like there is some kind of moral superiority in what YOU are doing versus the owners!
If your gardener or accountant suddenly demanded 50% of your earnings because they felt it was unfair, YOU WOULD FIRE THEM! They have a right to ask, but you have a right to fire them. And if they PRESS the issue - they need to take responsibility for the consequences! They might loose your house as a client!
- If you are wronged by your employer YOU ARE BLASPHEMING GOD'S NAME by trashing your employer! 1 Tim 6 - the headline scripture to this post makes this abundantly clear - the way to present grievances is NOT to trash them in public. In fact - you are called to FORGIVE. (See the movie AMISH GRACE for an example of this)
This whole country seems to disdain authority. Yet, the only time God said a human was of 'great faith' was the Centurion who completely understood that there was power in acknowledging authority.
I recently saw some tweets of some players suggesting the original injunction against the owners was God's will and the like. Oddly, these tweets were less forthcoming when the appeals court granted a temporary stay. In cases like these - the cause of Christ is hurt.
God is for justice. However, there is no contract. Therefore there is no agreement. The owners have a right to do whatever they want their business. If they handle it wrongly, they will loose players and fans. Players have a right to ask and hold out for the best deal possible. But they are not 'OWED' anything by the owners. There is no God accepted authority in coercing someone's real property from them.
So please. Tone it down a bit and show how to win under authority with grace.