Be Careful What You Say in Private

I’m a NBA fan. This week, the NBA (National Basketball Association) had its worst crisis in decades. Billionaire Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers NBA team, was punished drastically for making some private, disparaging remarks about people of color, specifically African-Americans and Latinos. Yet he makes mucho money as an NBA team owner, in which African-Americans constitute nearly 85% of all NBA players. Plus, his coach is well-liked African-American Doc Rivers.

American sports has done so much to improve race relations in the U.S. Now, the ugly face of racial bigotry, hatred, and discrimination had raised its head again in the land of the free and the brave, which wasn’t always that way even though some hypocritically said it was. Sterling’s remarks sounded like those of a Southern plantation owner instead of a basketball team owner.

Television network TMZ had obtained an audio and made it public through its TMZ Sports. On it, Donald Sterling allegedly says his derogatory remarks privately to his much-younger girlfriend, who also is a person of color. That is the same outfit that first broadcast words by the PGA Tour’s married man superstar Tiger Woods as cell phone messages to single women that got him in a mess of trouble as an adulterer.

The new NBA Commissioner, Adam Silver, did the right thing, and a rather unexpected thing, in his announcement yesterday and thereby protected the NBA. He banned Donald Sterling from any involvement in the NBA for life, fined him the maximum allowed, of $2.5 million, and declared that he would be passionately be advising the NBA owners to find Mr. Sterling in violation of the secret bylaws of the NBA’s Constitution, of conduct unbecoming NBA owners, and recommend that they require Mr. Sterling to soon sell the Los Angeles Clippers.

Before this announcement, the only response reported by Sterling was, “the Los Angeles Clippers are not for sale.” Well, commercial entities have been quickly withdrawing their sponsorship of the Clippers. If Commissioner Silver had not made such a bold move to punishment owner Sterling, commercial sponsors could have begun withdrawing their support of other NBA teams. Plus, boycotts could have occurred involving fans, NBA players, or both. The NBA, the most successful sports league in the world in recent years, was being threatened. But the Commissioner righted the tipping ship. Now the ball may be in Sterling’s court since he has a history of lawsuits involving racial discrimination. The NBA owners need to act swiftly and decisively by following Commissioner Silver’s recommendation.

But some people are claiming that since Sterling’s private remarks were obtained surreptitiously and thereafter broadcast to the public that he should not be held accountable for them. BALONEY! Read the Bible.

At the end of this age, after Jesus returns, we’re all going to stand before the judgment of God and Jesus Christ to give an account of our lives (Matthew 16.27; Romans 2.5-6; 14.10-12; 2 Corinthians 5.10). (All scripture quotations from NRSV unless otherwise noted.) Wise King Solomon wrote, “Do not revile the king even in your thoughts, or curse the rich in your bedroom, because a bird of the air may carry your words, and a bird on the wing may report what you say” Ecclesiastes 10.20 NIV). And he concluded, “God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12.14).

The Apostle Paul wrote, “God, through Jesus Christ, will judge the secret thoughts of all” (Romans 2.16).

And Jesus said, “nothing is covered up that will not be uncovered, and nothing secret that will not become known. What I say to you in the dark, tell in the light; and what you hear whispered , proclaim from the housetops. Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10.26-28). Jesus also said, “For there is nothing hidden except to be disclosed; nor is anything secret, except to come to light” (Mark 4.22).

So, be careful what you say in private, especially in this technologically advanced age of ours. But guess what, God doesn’t need any of our advanced technology because he’s got it all written down in books in heaven. John the Revelator says of that day of judgment, “I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne [of God], and books were opened. Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books…. and all were judged according to what they had done. Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire; and anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20.12-15).

Thank God for the blood of Christ which cleanses from all sin those who put their trust in Jesus dying for us on the old rugged cross.

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