Wednesday, March 21, 2012
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I enjoy going to professional sporting events. I can't afford to very often, but every once in a while some tickets come my way. And I think my favorite to attend would be professional football games. Unfortunately, I always seem to be surrounded by experts at those games. You know what I mean? Those fans that are on a first-name basis with every player. You know them. Actually, the players don't know them, probably wouldn't admit it if they did, but they feel free (these fans) to call every player by his first name.
And, of course, all the people around me seem to know how every play should be made. Occasionally they'll cheer, but more often they criticize. Seems like they always know a better play to call, or a better defense, or a better everything. Now, there's one place in the stadium you don't hear too much of that critical chatter...on the field, because they're just too busy playing the game.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Why Fight When You Can Criticize?"
Well, our word for today from the Word of God comes from the familiar story of David and Goliath. 1 Samuel 17:11 tells us what happened as the Philistine challenger, the giant named Goliath, came out every day and said, "Will someone come and fight me?" And every day, I guess you might say, "The Israeli Army headed for cover."
It goes like this, "On hearing the Philistine's words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified." It goes on to tell us that "Early in the morning, one morning, David left the flock with a shepherd, loaded up and set out as Jesse had directed." He was to take provisions to his brothers.
"He reached the camp as the army was going out to its battle positions..." Okay, now I love this, "...shouting the war cry." Can't you hear him? "Hey, let's go get 'em! We will... We will stomp you! Yeah!" And then, of course, nobody goes out to fight anybody. Oh, but they're making a lot of war noises. Sometimes that sounds like the church a little bit, huh?
Well, then, in verse 24 it says, "When the Israelites saw the man, they all ran from him in great fear. David asked the men standing near him, 'What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine, and who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?'" And then, finally, David starts to sound like he wants to go out and do the job. He's going to get out of the stands and get in the game.
Listen to what happens. "When Eliab, David's oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, 'Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the desert? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is. You came down only to watch the battle.'" Okay, do you get the picture here? Here's a battle, there's all these guys watching like fans, and there's one guy willing to get out of the stands and he doesn't get cheered, he gets criticized!
Not much has changed. Oh, there's a battle raging right now; enemy forces are taking lives unchallenged all around us. And finally someone says, "You know, maybe someone better do something about this. I'm going to try to do something. I'm going to try to make a difference." Maybe he's a pastor, a teacher, a youth leader, an elder, a deacon, a missionary, or just an everyday Christian who's trying to step up and make a difference. Is he getting cheers or is he getting jeers? Is he getting support or criticism? Maybe you're mostly watching God's work right now. Maybe you've never really gotten involved, or maybe you were and you just got tired.
Remember, it's easy to criticize when you're not in the battle yourself, and it's terribly wrong. Players just don't have much time to criticize. Let me suggest to you that there might be two legitimate responses here. One is to take a position. Maybe there is someone better, but at least you're willing to go. Get in there and get involved in this holy battle. Or keep quiet unless it's to cheer. See, criticism destroys the morale of the one who is in the game. It discourages others from getting in the game themselves. Oh, and it destroys the person who's doing the criticizing.
The warriors out there are tired; they're undermanned. Why don't you have the critics just stay in the stands. Why don't you join the heroes who are in the game? They're the ones who don't criticize much, because they are playing the game.