When I was a child, my father refereed basketball games. I remember two or three nights a week, he would come home wearing his black-and-white-striped shirt.
I doubt he still has his shirt anymore, so I’m thinking I may need to find out where I can buy one for myself. The reason is because Chloe and Cole will fight with each other, then expect me to settle their dispute.
It’s strange. On the exact same issues, Chloe is fully assured she’s completely in the right. Cole is fully assured he’s completely in the right. And they’re both fully assured I’m going to take their side.
At first, I was glad they came to me. They obviously recognized I had a measure of wisdom and sense of fairness. How could I not be pleased they held me in such high regard?
I would listen to both sides of the story, think about what was fair and render a verdict. I found, however, the more I did that, the more they came to me with their disagreements, wanting me to referee.
I think this is what Jesus knew when he was called on to act as a referee in the Bible. I also think this is why he refused to be drawn into such situations.
In Luke 12:13-14, an unidentified man in the crowd asked Jesus to tell the man’s brother to split the family inheritance with him. Obviously, he recognized Jesus had a measure of wisdom and sense of fairness. You also can tell from the man’s wording he was fully assured he was right, and his brother was wrong.
Yet Jesus knew if he refereed the situation, that’s all he’d be asked to do from then on. So Jesus turned the situation into a teaching on coveting (verses 15-21). From an earthly dispute, Jesus brought out a spiritual truth.
It’s what I’ve started trying with Chloe and Cole. Lately, I’ve used their disputes to talk to them about coveting, sharing, sacrifice and compromise. They’ve also learned to start resolving their issues between themselves, rather than coming to me. This means they’re maturing emotionally as well as spiritually.
Are you disputing with anyone, or is anyone disputing with you?
The most important thing may not be being right. The most important thing may be to discover a spiritual lesson from the dispute and how it can help you grow in your faith.
The Rev. Parrish Myers is a local minister living in Braselton. His column appears biweekly in Sunday Life and on gainesvilletimes.com/life.