With a good start to the NFL playoffs over the weekend, four teams played well enough to move on, while the other four teams are trying to figure out what went wrong and who’s to blame for the loss.

The Chiefs are blaming the play-calling…the Rams can make excuses for being inexperienced…the Bills couldn’t move the ball on offense…and the Panthers scored field goals instead of touchdowns.

Although there are additional reasons each of these teams lost, I’m sure many fans will point to the refs as playing a major factor.

I’m not big on viewing the refs as the culprit for teams losing, but there’s no question they had their struggles over the weekend. There were countless controversial calls, missed calls, and rules that just didn’t make sense.

The “what is a catch” issue and the “forward progress” debacle are big concerns, but what most stands out to me as poor refereeing is not throwing a flag when they know they should.

Of course, refs will make mistakes since they can’t see everything, but there is also an understanding that refs don’t want to make a call that decides the game, so they look the other way.

Yesterday, they sat back and watched fourth and goal as the Rams were trying to score, and no call was made when Atlanta linebacker, Deion Jones, clearly held Sammy Watkins. This ultimately allowed the Falcons to hold on for the win.

My problem isn’t with a ref missing a call, but with the approach that seems to be accepted where they don’t get involved on big plays.

The truth is, they still end up affecting the game by not doing anything at all, and allow players to get away with something they shouldn’t. Their “no call” can actually decide the game.

My concern for this approach also translates into our own lives. All too often we sit back and watch an “egregious play” happen right in front of us and turn the other way instead of getting involved.

We can witness a friend or family member get caught up in something they shouldn’t, but decide not to make a call at all. We don’t want anyone mad at us, so we just swallow our whistle and act like we don’t see what’s really going on.

Just like the refs can end up costing a team a win by their unwillingness to make the call they know they should, we can contribute to costing a friend or family member continued pain by not blowing our whistle.

But if we love them and see them heading down a dangerous path or wrapped in habitual sin, we need to come alongside of them with grace and make the call.

The Bible says in Galatians 6:1 (AMP), “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any sin, you who are spiritual [that is, you who are responsive to the guidance of the Spirit] are to restore such a person in a spirit of gentleness [not with a sense of superiority or self-righteousness], keeping a watchful eye on yourself, so that you are not tempted as well.”

We may not like having to blow the whistle when a situation is intense or high-pressured, and when someone’s not going to like it, but it’s hard to argue against it when we know the call needs to be made.

Struggling people need Jesus, and they need us to care enough to meet them in their messiness. With grace and truth, let’s help them get on the path God has for them.

I’m Bryce Johnson and you can unpack that!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I admit that my silence has caused me to miss opportunities to help someone. It can be easier to look the other way, but I want to be used by You to restore people and show them the life You have for them. I pray I’d approach these conversations with grace, truth, and love. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen.