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Authority and Refs

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Authority and Refs

Matthew 28:18 – And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.”

Romans 13:1 – Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

Titus 3:1-2 – Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

Romans 13:7 – Render to all what is due them; tax to whom tax is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honor to whom honor.

     There are many levels of authority that we come across and in many different places. Even within hockey there is authority from a league, a general manager, a coach, etc. How we view authority is a significant issue in our lives, as we are all under authority. My personal opinion is that one of the most outwardly disrespected positions of authority is the referee – and we can learn something about authority and our hearts by how we view them and treat them.

     When is the last time you saw a full hockey game where a player or coach didn’t question a call the ref made or didn’t make? It seems common place for coaches, players, and fans to disrespect the men in stripes, most times expressed verbally in an unbecoming way. The problem is in the heart, which in these cases is usually reflected in shouts, arguments, or disrespectful comments - but these don’t need to be there for there to be a problem with the heart.

     All authority belongs to God (Matthew 28:18), and authority is given to governing authorities from God (Romans 13:1) – which I believe includes even referees in a hockey game. The handling of that authority is between the ref and God – but many times we want to take God’s place and make the issue be between the ref and us – so we can judge and condemn him. When we, in our hearts, want to take the ref’s authority or to condemn him, we are not just usurping the ref’s authority, but usurping God’s. When we disrespect the ref’s authority, we disrespect God. When we honor the ref and respect his authority, we honor and respect God.

     Sometimes honoring authority will mean admitting you were wrong. Sometimes it will mean accepting you were wronged and leaving the justice to God (Romans 12:19). 1 Peter 2:18 – Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. And Proverbs 19:11 - a man’s wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense. Those in authority will not do everything right and some may even act with evil intent. If a ref acts with good intention but misses a call, then we should show grace and understanding. If they acted with evil intent, we should leave the vengeance to God, and if necessary address the issue with the governing authority in position to deal with it.

     So, what does all this mean for a hockey player? It means giving the referee his due, showing respect, and recognizing authority to govern the game is theirs and not ours. What does it mean for everyone? It means whatever authority we are under should be respected and submitted to as long as it doesn’t require us to go against how God has told us to live. This can be challenging sometimes, but God has given clear instruction - Titus 3:1-2 – Remind them to be subject to rulers, to authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good deed, to malign no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing every consideration for all men.

What authorities are you under in your life?
What does it look like to submit to authority?
In your heart, do you disrespect any authority that you are under?

For additional reading see Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 2:13-19, Luke 7:6-10

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