Mr. Referee, I Must Apologize!
by Joseph Franks
The verse is well known: “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12)
The verse is repeated, “Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise, that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land. (Ephesians 6:2)
The command is simple: Honor, submission, obedience, and respect are to be given to one’s biological parents.
The principle is simple: Honor, submission, obedience, and respect are to be given to all in authority, whether they be big governors like the emperor, or lesser governors put in place by God. (1 Peter 2; Romans 13)
The promise is simple: The Lord is pleased when his worshipers honor, submit, obey, and respect Him by keeping his command and honoring, submitting, obeying, and respecting those he places in positions of authority. Where obedience is found, spiritual and/or temporal blessing is not very far away.
The practice is brutal: Because we are sinners infected with the rebellion of Lucifer, Adam, and Eve, we are lovers of self-rule and independence, and we are not so inclined to submit our wills to the Heavenly Father by submitting our wills to his earthly representatives.
Therefore friends, we must confess our sin and repent for our paternal and maternal insubordination. Today, some reading this are not obeying their parents; they are insubordinate teenagers and college-age students. Others reading are not honoring their parents who are well-advanced in years. Even when the season of obedience ends, the characteristic of honor must continue.
Secondly, we must confess our sin and repent of our academic insubordination. Some students oppose God today by not being respectful of their teachers, administrators, rule books, and honor codes. And sadly, some parents are guilty of encouraging their children to walk and talk with disobedience and disrespect.
Thirdly, we must confess our sin and repent of our civil insubordination. Whether we are talking about the fireman, the policeman, or the taxman; whether we are referring to members of the executive, legislative, or judicial branches of government; when we disagree we tend to have a blatant disregard for the Fourth Commandment in our actions, words, and thoughts. Today, as we worship the King of kings and seek to expand his kingdom, let us honor Him by honoring the lesser kings set in office by Him. As Christians, let us be exemplary citizens.
Fourthly, we must confess our sin and repent of our ecclesiastical insubordination. Pastors and elders do not force us to become members and make public pronouncements and/or vows. Willingly we place ourselves under the spiritual leadership of men whom we deemed to be spiritually qualified. However, their teaching often goes in one ear and out the other, and their words of caution and admonition roll right off our backs without having any effect. Then, when we have had enough of our church fathers’ “intrusion” into our lives, we simply pack our bags and head to another assembly. The Bible tells us to honor those in the church who rule over us; we need to honor God by honoring this command.
Finally, we must confess our sin and repent of our recreational insubordination. Quite often, athletes and fans have a tendency to hide their Christianity when they arrive at the field, ballpark, gymnasium, or arena. Uncharitable and dishonorable conduct is often directed at the opposing team and fans, but no one gets verbally accosted and dressed-down like the referee or umpire. According to proper theology, these men are placed by their local assigner, but they are also placed by God. They exist to promote good sportsmanship and punish evil conduct, and even if they lack equity and skill in officiating, we are to honor God by honoring them.
So with that being said, “Mr. Referee, I must apologize — again.” There should be a difference in the way a Christian responds to your governance. Something happens in the heat of battle, and I lose it. I sin and dishonor you and my God. So hear my words of penitence, and look to see my repentance. And perhaps, through my submission to your authority, my children, my players, and my fellow fans will be further encouraged to honor the other authority figures placed by God in their life. But if not, at least my God will say, “Well done,” and you will have a more pleasant experience when you visit our ball-field.