By John Ed Mathison
The soccer World Cup is described as the planet’s biggest sporting festival. This year it is being played in Russia. Because the Russian team lost some games late in the regular season, the Russian people were very critical and said ugly things about their team.
Guess what? A politician launched a bill that would make it a criminal offense to criticize the country’s national soccer team. That’s right. Vitaly Milonov is behind a bill that will set fines of $160 on anyone found guilty of “verbally tormenting” the team. His reason is that such criticism lowers national moral. He says, “Our players are ours regardless of how good they are.” He told the Pravda Newspaper, “Here, some idiots make fun of them and spoil their pregame moods. Therefore when our team loses, we should blame those who insulted our players.”
Soccer is the biggest sport in the world. Each soccer game is important, but not as important as the game of life. Words in the game of life influence whether people win or lose. I believe we’re living at a critical point in history, where as an American, each of us needs to examine carefully how we use our words. In the game of life, are our words helping lead people to victory or defeat?
Remember reciting sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me? That is not the truth. Words have the power to hurt or to heal. Words have the power to build up or tear down. Words have the power to guide or to leave astray. Words can encourage or discourage. Words can bring joy or sorrow, laughter or tears. Words can hurt us, and words can hurt others.
The French are taking a step forward. They recently passed a new French law under which men can be fined up to $880 if they whistle at or make offensive comments to a woman on the street.
With the wide use of social media, things are written that should never be written. I believe that we are at a point in our history now where we must guard our words and be encouraging. If we offer a critical word, it must be constructive criticism. Years ago, Benjamin Franklin said, “If all printers were determined not to print anything until they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” Ben Franklin’s words may be more important today than when he said them.
The wise man Solomon said, “Some people like to make cutting remarks, but the words of the wise soothe and heal.” (Proverbs 12:18) “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but harsh words cause conflicts.” (Proverbs 15:1) “Any story sounds true until someone tells the other side and sets the record straight.” (Proverbs 18:17) “Those who love to talk will suffer the consequences. Many have died because the wrong thing was said.” (Proverbs 18:21)
You have immense power with your words. Please choose them carefully. Representative, Diana McCarthy offered the following prayer in the Arizona House of Representatives, “Lord, make all our words gracious and tender today for tomorrow we may have to eat them.”
Let’s revive civility!!! Offer words of praise and encouragement. It doesn’t do any harm to smile and say, “Good morning” even if it is raining. Pay a compliment. Say something good about America, sports teams, the company you work for, politicians at all levels of government, your family, your church, etc.
Russia and France are taking biblical concepts and turning them into new rules. I propose for America an old rule – “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” (Ephesians 4:29)
What did you say?