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Raising your hand

There was a time in the game of basketball, when if you fouled someone, you were supposed to raise your hand.   I remember one year when I played, they made it a rule that if you didn’t immediately raise your arm after the referee called a foul on you, they would add a technical foul.  (The difference between a regular foul and a technical foul was kind of like the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony, so you didn’t want to have a technical foul called on you!).  The whole point to all of this hand raising was so that the official scorer would know which of the ten players on the court had committed the foul.

Of course, this drew attention to the offending player.  Everyone on the court and in the stands knew you had violated the rules.  There was no such thing as a secret foul.  Today, players aren’t required to raise their hands in acknowledgement when they foul but just the same, everyone knows.  Sometimes the number of the player who fouled is flashed on the scoreboard.  In a larger venue, it might be announced over the public address system.  In a still larger venue, they announce it on radio or television. 

There still aren’t any secret fouls.

What I liked about raising your hand is that you had to immediately own your mistake.  Everybody that played the game committed fouls so you weren’t alone by any means, but nonetheless teams didn’t commit fouls, they were committed by individuals.  You fouled someone, the referee called it, and you raised your hand.  I suppose you could have practiced some form of denial by not raising your hand (and risking a technical), and going on as if you hadn’t done anything.  But that would not have been smart because basketball is one of the rare sports where you are disqualified after a certain number of fouls.  You could end up denying yourself right out of the game. 

I wish to speak much more of life than basketball.  But in this case, basketball is kind of a microcosm of life.  In life, we all sin.  When that happens, the best, healthiest thing we can do is to raise your hand, own our sin, and then get on with living.  We can live in denial but we do so to our own destruction and disqualification.  This seems to me to be exactly what John is encouraging disciples to do in 1 John 1:5-2:2.

There’s a balance to be had here that the mature in Christ find.  In fact, it’s part of what makes for maturity.  There’s a seriousness in attitude in regard to their sin.  There is an honest evaluation of what it is and little, if any, room for rationalizing or excusing.      But then there’s also the releasing of it.  There is a recognition that nothing is to be gained (and much to be lost), by dwelling on it.  We don’t please our Father by sinning but we please Him even less when we act as if there is no such One as a gracious Father who forgives.

 Don’t deny yourself out of life.  Raise your hand, own your mistakes, and move on.  After all, the Lord owns us.  And He’s much greater than our mistakes.
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