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Penalty Kill Grudge

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Penalty Kill Grudge

Written by Bryan Dench

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD. Leviticus 19:18

Hockey can be a very fast paced, hard-hitting, and emotional game. There are plenty of opportunities to lose your temper. I remember in college a guy deliberately crosschecked me across the face, breaking my nose. I wanted to retaliate and break him (but he got away). It's very easy to get angry or to want to settle the score.

We see professional players getting into fights on the ice all the time. One of the best things about playoff hockey is that fighting pretty much stops. We can understand, with the intensity of their game and the violence of their hits, how pro players' tempers can flare, especially if the referees don't seem to be keeping a tight rein on penalties. But I have to admit I hate it when fights break out. I don't watch them if they are on TV. It just seems to be completely against the spirit of the way hockey, or any sport, should be played.

Certainly, for a committed Christian athlete, fighting on the ice would be out of the question. WE are ambassadors for Jesus Christ in every single thing we do. Christians are called to govern their tempers. Christians are called to leave revenge to God. That does not mean it will always be easy. I'm certainly not pretending I live that way before the face of God all the time. But I know what will be pleasing to Christ and want to do it.

Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome this way (Romans chapter 12):

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. * * * Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord. "BUT IF YOUR ENEMY IS HUNGRY, FEED HIM, AND IF HE IS THIRSTY, GIVE HIM A DRINK; FOR IN SO DOING YOU WILL HEAP BURNING COALS ON HIS HEAD." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Easy to do? No. Honoring God? Yes. Better for you? Yes. Holding a grudge, or failing to forgive, hurts you more than the person who did you wrong. That person probably doesn't care, or he/she would have come to you for forgiveness. Holding onto that bitterness, that grudge, only allows the wrongdoer to continue to hurt you. This applies to all kinds of wrongs, whether it's that cheap shot on the ice, a cruel classmate's jab, a boss, coach, or teacher who treats you badly, or the betrayal of someone you trust. Remember Our Lord himself experienced the worst kinds of injury, injustice and betrayal, and yet forgave. He's our model. Our goal as Christians is to strive with all our heart to please Christ and to be more like him all the time.

As C. S. Lewis put it, "To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable, because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you."

Discussion Questions

  1. Is there anyone you are holding a grudge against? If so, what have you done about it? What can you do about it? If the person is a brother or sister in Christ, see Matthew chapter 18.
  2. Do you think anyone might have a grudge against you? If so what are you going to do about that?

Additional Reading

  1. Matthew 6:12
  2. Deuteronomy 32:35
  3. Proverbs 25:21-22
  4. Matthew 5:38-48
  5. Luke 6: 27-36

About the Author

Bryan Dench grew up a competitive athlete in Massachusetts, lettering in soccer, hockey, and tennis in high school. He played a year of college hockey at Harvard. He has coached hockey (working mainly with goalies) and for many years coached soccer at all levels from youth to high school, possessing a USSF D level coaching license. Bryan has had the privilege of assisting is a coach at the FCA hockey camp in Hagerstown, Maryland, and, Lord willing, hopes to continue to be more and more involved with FCA hockey.

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