Umpire in the Heart?

tilt shift photography of a baseball referee
Photo by Pixabay on

One of the things I will continue to do on this blog is provide easy kid-friendly explanations to sometimes difficult-to-understand words. Think back to our definition of worship or the meaning of being sealed by the Spirit, etc.

Here’s another fun definition to teach your kids … one that illustrates a serious truth.

Colossians 3:12-17 has a list of qualities that characterize a Christian’s life. Verse 15 begins a summary: And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Wait a minute! Back up! What does all this have to do with umpires?

Paul uses illustrations from the Olympic games several times in his letters.

(Sidenote: do your kids know that sports are mentioned in the Bible? You could challenge older kids to see how many references they can find to the Olympic games.)

Colossians 3:15 is one that we sometimes miss. The word rule in this verse is from the Greek word brabeuetô.  Paul was referencing a judge at the games, an umpire.

Most kids understand the job of a umpire. (If your child is more familiar with a sport where the judge is a referee – that works, too.)

When an umpire calls the pitch a ball or a strike, his word goes.  (Yes, the manager can check with the final authorities in New York to see if the umpire got the call right on plays in the field – but cannot do so with balls or strikes. I added this, because I’ve worked with kids enough to know some 10-year-old would bring it up.) A batter can get angry, can argue, can throw his bat down – but it doesn’t change the outcome of the umpire’s decision.

Peace is to umpire our hearts with that same kind of authority. Whatever we say or do, peace is the governing standard. We should be thankful for God’s peace, treat others peacefully and make our decisions based on peace. Peace is our ruler.

These verses are specifically talking about our attitude toward other believers. When we’re working together as one body, we can accomplish so much more than we can if everyone is focused on getting in the last word, arguing about everything, or being angry.

We usually think of these verses in terms of adults in a church setting, but consider this – kids who have trusted Christ are also part of the body of believers.

How can kids apply the umpire rule of peace to their lives?

First of all, many kids who know the Lord live in a house with other believers. Do they let peace and thankfulness umpire their lives when they’re told to entertain their siblings? Do they let peace and thankfulness umpire their lives when Dad asks them to help weed the vegetable garden? Do they let peace and thankfulness umpire their hearts when Mom says they have to go to Aunt Ellie’s birthday party and miss the soccer game? Kids have many opportunities to let peace rule – starting at home.

And at church? Do they show respect to their teachers by listening? Are they kind to the new kid? Do they argue about not getting to sit by their friends?

Help kids understand the privilege they have of being a part of the body of Christ. Encourage them to allow peace to umpire their lives – and show them, by example, what a life umpired by peace, looks like.


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