Summary: Our lives are lived most peacefully when we live in a "roundabout" way.

Title: Learning to Play Nice

Text: II Corinthians 13:11-14 and Romans 12:14-21

Thesis: Our lives are lived most peacefully when we live in a “roundabout” way.


Bonnie and I saw our first Lacrosse match two weeks ago in Wheaton, IL. Our oldest Granddaughter, Matti, was playing her first game and she was the goalie. It seems being goalie is not an easy position and in fact none of the other girls would play it so, Matti said, “OK, I’ll do it.”

When I saw the game in action I understood why she wore a face mask, helmet and full-body armor. Lacrosse players move a solid rubber ball, that looks to have the consistency of a pool cue ball, with a long stick with a scoopy, web-like apparatus on the end. They pass the ball back and forth and scoop it up from the ground and when they take a shot at the goal they fling the ball at super-sonic speed.

Lacrosse is a tough game. I read an article about girls’ lacrosse in New York state where they have passed legislation to force the players to play nice. If they don’t learn to play nice this year the teams will have to wear helmets and they do not want to wear helmets.

So this year there is a ruling that players are issued yellow cards for playing too aggressively with their slashing and checking. If a team receives three yellow cards a player is removed from the game. And for every additional yellow card an additional player is removed from the game. So, feasibly one team could have 12 girls playing against 6 opponents. They want the girls to learn to play nice. (Learning to Play Nice, Mirah Wassef, Times-Herald-Record, 5/11/11)

Last Sunday the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published an article, Learn to Play Nice in the Workplace. The gist of the article was that given the job market it would be wise to learn how to get along in your current workplace. The advice included talking through conflicts rather than firing off angry emails; being patient; letting grievances go; and keeping things in perspective. (Anita Bruzzese, Learn How to Place Nice In the Workplace, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, June 12, 2011)

I read a story this week of a shipwreck that was reminiscent of the Tom Hanks film, The Castaway. A man shipwrecked for several months on a desert island finally attracted the attention of a passing ship which sent a crew in a smaller boat to rescue him. When the rescuers came ashore they notice there three huts. So the immediately assumed there were additional castaways living on the island.

But the man assured them he was the only one on the island. The first hut he said, “is my house. The second hut is my church. And the third hut is the church I used to go to.”

Learning to play nice is not only an admirable goal in sports and business. It is desirable as well in the Christian community.

In our text today Paul wrote what might be thought of as “last minute instructions” to the Christians living in Corinth. It is kind of like what we might do as we are walking out the door. Things like, “Don’t forget to feed the cat.” Or we might say, “Remember to turn off the sprinkler.” Or “Be sure to make that deposit or we will be overdrawn.”

Finally, brothers, good-bye. Aim for perfection, listen to my appeal, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. II Corinthians 13:11

He said, “Live in peace… learn how to play nice.”

What does it mean to live in peace? II Corinthians 13:11 (To help us understand how to live in peace I turned to Romans 12 for some insight.)

I. We live in harmony when we are deliberately sensitive to others.

Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:14-15

Several years ago Daniel Goleman wrote a book, Emotional Intelligence: Why It Matters More Than I.Q.

We know people who are very bright. We know people who are really, really smart but lack common sense. They may know everything and yet, do the dumbest things. Goleman says that in relationships, being emotionally smart is more important than being intellectually smart. Smart people may know things but they do not necessarily know people. They may know facts but they cannot read the faces of others.

A person with emotional intelligence is perceptive in reading the emotions of others by facial expressions, tone of voice, body language… people with emotional intelligence can read people.

This verse is about reading people. It is about being sensitive to others. It is about picking up on anger and hostility, the sadness and joy of others and responding appropriately. Appropriate responses result in peace and harmony and inappropriate responses result in disharmony and unrest.

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