Kirk Cousins is the starting quarterback for the Washington’s Redskins.  On Sunday, October 22, 2017, his grandmother died suddenly, leading Kirk to post a heartfelt message on Instagram at 5:35pm.

“Tonight my Grandma Jean went home to be with the Lord. Her passing was sudden, but because of The Gospel, we will see her again! She left a Spiritual heritage for her children’s children (Deut. 6:2) Her favorite song was “In the Garden”. She is now living that hymn more than ever before!”

On October 23, 2017, during Monday night’s NFL game between the Washington Redskins and the Philadelphia Eagles, the post was read, by either Jon Gruden or Sean McDonough, on the air midway through the second quarter. It was a remarkable moment that continued as additional comments were made about the faith of both quarterbacks, Kirk Cousins and Carson Wentz. The name of Jesus Christ was exalted.  Later in the game, with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the broadcasters returned to the faith of the man of God playing quarterback for the Washington Redskins and again invoked the name of his Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Good for them.

I find the religious comments significant because of the courage it took to read a simple statement of faith, and add an additional brief comment. In a politically correct environment, and with so much anger directed at NFL players for not showing proper respect to the American Flag, it is good to know that not all players are ungrateful and disrespectful.

Furthermore, an important truth is set forth which is that evil must not, and will not, be allowed to overshadow the good. By the grace of God there are many good men in the NFL who want to play the game to the best of their ability, give honor to God in their chosen profession, and make a living for their families. None of this should be forgotten, or taken from them too quickly, in patriotic fury over the bad behavior of a few.

One day soon, all the players in the NFL will stand again. They will stand because the League will soon perceive it is everyone’s best financial interest to do so. It is as simple as that. Meanwhile, Christians who are rightly concerned over the lack of patriotism by a few disgruntled and misguided players must be careful not to let hateful anger overtake them and ruin their own testimony, or destroy meaningful relationships with others who are not believed to be as zealous as they might be in an arbitrary attempt to punish players.

While some people are ready to boycott the NFL and totally give up on the game of football, others feel led of the Lord to continue to play the game with honor, or comment upon their Christian faith when possible. Every person should do what they think is best for God and country.

For Christians who love the game of football, and yet do not like the unpatriotic acts of the players, care must be taken not to respond to the situation in a way that will bring reproach upon the name of Jesus. Therefore, when considering your response, let me encourage the following.

First, pray for the players who are manifesting their anger and lack of respect for America by taking a knee during the anthem, exercising, raising their fists, or locking their arms together. When patriotic Christians, and others, see this happening, they are hurt and want to hurt in retaliation. Many Christians are not interested in prayer at this point, but in punishing those who are tearing apart the social fabric of the nation. Nevertheless, it is a time for prayer. This is the will of the Lord who said, “Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.” (Luke 6:28)

Second, if so led by the Spirit and the principles of the Word of God, do not withdraw from the game, but redeem it afresh. Jesus said that in the world the Church would have tribulation. When trouble comes, a natural tendency is to want to run away, and to withdraw. Jesus prayed that God the Father not allow His followers to do this. “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil one.” (John 17:15)

Third, as much as possible, put away all anger. “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” (Eph. 4:31)

Fourth, do not pass an unjust judgment on those who may not want to respond to a given situation the same way you do. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” (2 Cor. 3:17)

Fifth, be careful about adopting worldly methods to resolve a spiritual problem. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” (Rom. 12:1-2)

Boycotts, protest marches, making speeches in anger, demanding others join “the cause” or be shamed, are questionable tactics and must be carefully considered. A litmus test for the Christian is this, “Are you more like Jesus when this is done, or is your attitude and action more pleasing to the flesh, the world, and the devil?” Yes, something has to be done to protest evil, but what is to be done must not violate any Christian principle or mandate.

Finally, Christian guard your heart. If a course of action is creating anger in your own heart, and leading to further division, even against loved ones and people who are sympathetic to your cause, then something is wrong. The Lord will keep a person in perfect peace whose heart is stayed on Him. “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee.” (Isaiah 26:3)

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