"Serious sport has nothing to do with fair play…it is war minus the shooting."
If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. James 1:26
In the week that I am writing this a high profile footballer could clearly be seen telling the referee to XXXX off. While we cannot condone such behaviour, the player is far from being the only one who cannot control his tongue.
James does not mince his words when talking about the tongue - it is like a small spark, which starts a forest fire (James 3:5), it corrupts the whole person (3:6), it is full of deadly poison (3:8).
He goes as far as to say that "All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and creatures of the sea are being tamed and have been tamed by man, but no man can tame the tongue" (3:7,8).
As always James wants to show us a better way, suggesting that our tongue be used to praise the Lord and build people up. The challenge to be "quick to listen, slow to speak" (1:19) applies to most of us. Is it by accident that God has given us 2 ears and only one mouth?
We are quick to criticize the high profile footballer who is caught on camera but haven't we just fallen into the trap ourselves in how we use our tongue? Also, if a TV camera and microphone was on us in our stressful moments would we be happy with everything we were caught saying?
I remember watching a friend playing in a pre-season friendly for a club now in the English Premiership. My friend had a storming game, beating player after player and creating chance after chance. After the game the coach said only one thing to him "You lost the ball, when you could have passed it" - no mention of all his positive contributions. Before I criticize the coach, let me recall how often I give feedback by picking on one negative aspect rather than many positives.
Using the works of Philippians 4:8, let is strive only to say things that are "true, noble, pure, right, admirable and praiseworthy". If we do, we will be an asset to any team or club.