"Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain."
~Psalm 127:1

April 1, 2011

What is fair?

I was reading from Psalm 73 this morning and was blown away with how this describes what I have been thinking about the whole NFL lockout thing and other "professional" sports.

They are fighting over a large sum of money, for a game that they "love" to play.  Personally, if they really loved to play the game they would be able to settle this dispute in no time because the money wouln't matter to them.  It seems they love the money more than the game, just a bit.

And here they are, these rich, famous athletes out of a "job."

And here we are, farming the land, taking care of our animals, and not getting huge financial rewards for it, certainly not $9 billion or more in annual profits.

Josiah and I figured out what one athlete was getting paid for playing in one game, at least from what he wasn't getting paid because he was suspended for 2 games.  A basketball game lasts for about 3 hours, but the players only play like 1/3 of that time or less.  So this player was getting paid $200,000/hour (or wasn't getting paid in this case).  Now some would argue that he's also getting paid to practice and lift weights and all that other stuff.  But I lifted 520lbs. of salt and bicarb yesterday, how much should I get paid for that?

And what is the sports and entertainment industry providing for the world?  Entertainment?  We can live without entertainment, it is not a sustainable industry.  They take the money, but how is it benefiting other people?

The dairy industry, on the other hand, is sustainable, it can stand on its own.  And we are providing a valuable product for the world.  If all the farms in the world disappeared, what would we eat?  Food is far more valuable than entertainment.

Does this sound a bit bitter?  That's why I brought up Psalm 73.  It is a pretty long one.

"Truly God is good to Israel,
to those whose hearts are pure.
But as for me, I almost lost my footing.
My feet were slipping, and I was almost gone.
For I envied the proud
when I saw them prosper despite their wickedness.
They seem to live such painless lives;
their bodies are so healthy and strong.
They don’t have troubles like other people;
they’re not plagued with problems like everyone else.
They wear pride like a jeweled necklace
and clothe themselves with cruelty.
These fat cats have everything
their hearts could ever wish for!
They scoff and speak only evil;
in their pride they seek to crush others.
They boast against the very heavens,
and their words strut throughout the earth.
And so the people are dismayed and confused,
drinking in all their words.
“What does God know?” they ask.
“Does the Most High even know what’s happening?”
Look at these wicked people—
enjoying a life of ease while their riches multiply." v. 1-12

So I start to read verses 1-12, and I'm thinking this describes the sports industry.  They are strong and have more stuff than they could ever want, and some brag themselves up to larger than life, basically saying they are "bigger" than God.  Not all athletes are like this of course, that would be a stereotype, and stereotypes do not speak for a large population of people.

"Did I keep my heart pure for nothing?
Did I keep myself innocent for no reason?
I get nothing but trouble all day long;
every morning brings me pain." v. 13-14

As I read this part, I thought, "how many times have I felt this?  What are we doing wrong that we aren't propering like them?"

"If I had really spoken this way to others,
I would have been a traitor to your people.
So I tried to understand why the wicked prosper.
But what a difficult task it is!
Then I went into your sanctuary, O God,
and I finally understood the destiny of the wicked.
Truly, you put them on a slippery path
and send them sliding over the cliff to destruction.
In an instant they are destroyed,
completely swept away by terrors.
When you arise, O Lord,
you will laugh at their silly ideas
as a person laughs at dreams in the morning." v. 15-20

But then the writer finds his answer to his questions when he goes to God.  The path of "prosperity now," does not always lead to a good end.  People everywhere are searching for something to fill them up.  They think more money will help, but it doesn't; they think more women will fill them, but they don't; they think more drugs or alcohol or television or whatever else will fill them, but they don't.  And that path is leading to self-destruction. 

I don't feel joyful or happy a lot of the time because I feel the need to be filled up with something.  I've tried television, but that always left me feeling empty at the end of the day. 

"Then I realized that my heart was bitter,
and I was all torn up inside.
I was so foolish and ignorant—
I must have seemed like a senseless animal to you." v. 21-22

And I realized that I was bitter about this whole sports thing too.  And it is so stupid to be bitter because it only hurts me, it doesn't hurt anyone else or change the situation.

"Yet I still belong to you;
you hold my right hand.
You guide me with your counsel,
leading me to a glorious destiny.
Whom have I in heaven but you?
I desire you more than anything on earth.
My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak,
but God remains the strength of my heart;
he is mine forever
Those who desert him will perish,
for you destroy those who abandon you.
But as for me, how good it is to be near God!
I have made the Sovereign Lord my shelter,
and I will tell everyone about the wonderful things you do." v. 23-28

And even though I have these thoughts and am jealous and bitter about stupid things, I believe these last verses are true.  When I confess that I do stupid things, God still loves me.  And he is guiding me, when I listen.  And I can still tell other people about all the cool stuff that he has done in our lives.

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