The men in stripped shirts in the arena, are some of the most important people at a rodeo. They are part rule enforcers, scoreboard, recorders, critics, and manual labor. They are the guys busting their backs setting up the arena, marking the patterns, assembling the barrier, and every other odd job that needs to be done for the perf to go on. They know the rule book forward and backward in order to make sure that a breakaway rope is attached to the horn right, a goat was tied correctly, a bull riders rope was complete with knuckle-pad, a pole pattern went unbroken, or a mark-out completed. They keep the official score on their note pads that dangle over the fence. They award points on what they see on the rough stock end and stop the timer on the timed event end. When it comes down to it, they are the final say for everything that happens in the arena…and I couldn’t do their job.
Cowboy race judges have the same problems. Line up 40 horses in a row, and I couldn’t find one conformation problem with any of them. Have them lope off, spin, lead change or side pass, and I couldn’t pick out a single reason one is better than another. I am a sucker for color, so the first grey horse I saw would be the winner. This is the problem with judging, you have to know your stuff. I clearly don’t.
But there is one area of life that I could compete with their job on every level and its described in 1 Corinthians 13.
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Loves does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
When it comes to love, I often choose the judge route. The judge’s job is to enforce rules, keep a tab of the inadequacies, and do everything in order to accomplish the task of running a rodeo or competition. When it comes down to it, my wife would probably say I do the same thing with my marriage.
In a fight or argument, the first thing that comes to my mind often is a list of her transgressions…because I’m like a judge. Exemplified in keeping a record of wrongs.
When we are getting ready to go somewhere or traveling, often times the time matters more to me than her well being….because I’m like a judge. Resulting in impatience, unkind words, and anger.
In my quiet thoughts our relationship is often compared to others (financially, romantically, familiarly, etc.) and when this happens I often want what others have…because I’m like a judge. Exemplified in envy (I want what you have), boasting (I have what you want), and pride (You need what I have).
If a choice is going to benefit one of us, my first inclination is to make it me…because I’m like a judge.
The rodeo judge serves his purpose so well, but when it comes down too it that is not the role God wants us to play in marriage. Jesus love for us was explained in his life, exemplified on the cross, and entrusted to his followers. Ephesians 5 says:
“Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife, loves himself.”
When comparisons and lists creep into marriages, we begin playing the role of judge. When our tasks cover up love, we play the role of judge. When our marriages struggle most is when we put the stripped shirt on and start calling the shots. I want to be the protector, the one who leads in trust, the hopeful one, and the one who stands with perseverance for our relationship…this cant happen when I assume the role of the judge.