“Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” — Ephesians 4:31-32
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I was glued to the TV. It was tied in a terrific AFC championship game, and looked like the game was heading to overtime. But on third down, a hobbled Patrick Mahomes scrambled for a first down, and was able to get out of bounds with less than 10 seconds on the game clock. As Mahomes crossed into the sidelines, Bengals rookie Joseph Ossai pushed the Chiefs quarterback and was flagged 15 yards. What would have likely been a field-goal attempt of nearly 60 yards was now only 45 yards.
As Harrison Butker drilled the game-winning field goal, cameras panned to Ossai on the bench. Clearly distraught and sobbing, and shielding his face from millions of TV viewers, Ossai was consoled by coaches and teammates. It was a tough scene, and a bitter end to the season for the Bengals.
While hearts were tender and sympathetic on the Bengals sideline, that was not the case on social media. “Fans” were laying into Ossai for “costing them the game” (or at least an opportunity to continue the game in overtime). People who failed to recognize the pain of this 22-year-old rookie were relentless in their attacks.
For everyone who is not directly tied to the Cincinnati Bengals organization, this game truly was nothing more than entertainment. If it was more than that, there’s a deeper issue. Regardless of one’s passion for a particular sports organization or school, we’ve got to do a better job of putting ourselves in others’ shoes. We need to stop piling on ultra-critical words that destroy, and instead remember that we are all in need of grace and forgiveness.
Ossai didn’t sin by pushing Mahomes to the ground. It was simply a mistake. A costly one, but a mistake nonetheless. Adding insults and harsh words do nothing but make the one saying or typing the them feel superior, as though they would NEVER do such a thing!
Imagine if Ossai was your son. Imagine the pain he has endured. He knows he messed up. He is already beating himself up. Does he benefit from anger and hate at this point? Or might kindness be the answer?
Let’s all remember we have a Savior who bore our sin, shame, mess-ups and betrayals on the cross. Instead of getting what we deserve, He offers us grace. Now, it’s time for us to do the same for others.
— C.A. Phillips
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