Some time ago, I was privileged to witness something that provides immediate fodder for those looking for life and spiritual lessons from the game of baseball.

Here’s the scenario: Two players were suspended (for two games) for a violation of team rules. The rule broken is unimportant, but suffice it to say that each player knowingly and willfully broke it. Therefore, both were immediately suspended for the upcoming two games. No questions. No appeals. No excuses.

As I watched the scenario unfold, I was struck by several lessons.

First, sin has consequences. In this case, it was the sinful choice to rebel in the face of established authority and against the rules set by that authority which brought consequences on these two players. I’m proud of the coaching staff that was willing to face the backlash of parents and others; they made a statement to these two players and the rest of the team: the choices you make have consequences. What an incredible lesson for these two young players to learn. And, what a shame that many parents continually fail to teach such lessons. Yet, no one can deny that our choice produce negative or positive effects. And, a quick study of the Scripture reveals that sin has disastrous consequences. See Romans 6:23, Mark 15, and Galatians 6:7-8. What is reaped is what was sown.

Second, when sin is committed, you can either own it or attempt to justify it. I stood nearby, watching each player respond to a simple line of questioning: “Why aren’t you playing? What did you do?” Separately, I heard each player’s response. The first: “I did something stupid and broke one of the coach’s rules.” He owned it. He never questioned the validity of the rule or complained when it was enforced. I was impressed. That was until I listened later to the second player’s response: “I broke a team rule.” So far, so good. Yet, he went on to complain about how his “minor” infraction garnered the same punishment as a previous year’s player who did something “major.” Sadly, this player sidestepped all responsibility and was mad at the coaching staff! Instead of being a man and admitting his mistake with humility, he tried to justify it.

Third, the spirit of the law is often as important as the letter. I must admit that the rule that was broken was indeed a minor one. However, to break it deceptively, as these players did, was a slap in the face to the coaching staff and their authority. Therefore, the punishment fit the breaking of the spirit of the law far more than it fit breaking the letter of the law. Jesus had numerous encounters along these lines in the Gospels; he constantly warned people not just to follow the letter of the law, but to worship the giver of the law (God Himself).

Fourth, some learn, others will be crushed. I’m confident that the first young man learned a valuable lesson that day. He was humble and admitted his mistake. He received the correction and instruction of the coaches and is better for it. I fear, however, for the second player. His pride, desire to skirt authority, and willingness to dodge responsibility are alarming. Unless he sobers up and listens to the authorities in his life, he will learn lessons only the hard way. In fact, he will one day be crushed.

I leave you with two verses to accentuate this lesson.

“Whoever loves instruction loves knowledge, but one who hates correction is stupid.” Proverbs 12:1

“One who becomes stiff-necked, after many reprimands will be broken suddenly–and without a remedy.” Proverbs 29:1