Instant Replay

“He was totally out of bounds,” Roger commented. Lynne and I were visiting my twin brother Roger and his wife Shirley in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and we had stopped at a pizza place for dinner. The game on the screen was between the Tennessee “Vols” and the Georgia Bulldog (October 3, 2016). Since none of us were followers of either team, we just enjoyed the back and forth of the last couple of minutes. The last two minutes of that game were the most memorable fourth-quarter moments I’ve ever seen. Tennessee led 28 to 24 and Georgia scored, and the game was Georgia 31, Tennessee 28 with ten seconds left on the clock. Dismayed Vols fans’ faces appeared on the Jumbotron. Tennessee received it and ran downfield, where the player went out, hence Roger’s comment. With four seconds left on the clock, Tennessee threw a “hail Mary” pass. The receiver, surrounded by Bulldogs, leapt up and pulled the ball down, falling to the ground. Then it was shocked Bulldog faces on the Jumbotron.

Then came the instant replay, over and over on the TV station, from several angles, proof positive that Tennessee caught the ball and defeated Georgia. Those instant replays are great, aren’t they? Not to burst your bubble, but instant replay didn’t originate in the 20th Century. Jesus mastered “instant replay” before sports ever picked it up.

There is a story in the Gospel of Luke where four men bring a paralytic man and lower him through the roof in front of Jesus.

“And when he [Jesus] saw their faith, he said, ‘Man, your sins are forgiven you.’ And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, ‘Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ When Jesus perceived their thoughts, he answered them, ‘Why do you question in your hearts?’” (Luke 5:20-22, ESV)

Instant replay of the thoughts in their hearts! Those dudes were totally busted! That wasn’t the only time where we read that Jesus knew their thoughts (see Matthew 9:4 and 12:25; Luke 6:8, 9:47, and 11:17). They shouldn’t have been surprised, as Scripture told them, “The Lord – knows the thoughts of man.” (Psalm 94:11, ESV)

My friend David, “Coach”, challenged me on this when he gave the message this morning. He was talking about the power of the tongue. He threw out the question, “What if everything I said this week was played back to me on a recorder?” That would make you reflect on your words, wouldn’t it? It did for me. The words we speak reveal the depth of our hearts. Coach said, “Whatever is in the well (heart) comes up in the bucket (tongue).” I think he got that from me, just sayin! Here is how Jesus addresses it:

“You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good person out of his good treasure brings forth good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure brings forth evil. I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” (Matthew 12:34-37, ESV)

I see myself sitting down with the Lord soon and asking for His “instant replay” of any careless words I may have spoken this week. Along with this, I will ask Him to purify my “well” (heart) so that my “bucket” (tongue) will be a blessing to those around me.

What say you, Man of Valor?

Adapted from Men of Valor Devotional by Ron Helle, 1 March 2024

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