“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
In 1969, Joe South released a song entitled: “Games People Play.” It would go on to win two Grammy’s in 1970 for Best Contemporary song and Song of the Year. It is not only a great song but a song with a powerful message about life and relationships.
It begins with a verse that leads the listener to think this is a protest song. The beginning lines a social commentary reflecting on how the principalities and powers of this world lie and cheat, and through their dishonesty make huge profits from the suffering of all the workers in the world. All while they get to chill in luxury. It grabs our attention as we shake our head YES! And then point to all the ways we are suffering and blame large corporate greed for our misery.
But the song continues…
And it gets personal. Because the lyrics begin to talk about our relationships with our partners in life. How we treat each other in our most intimate relationships. To often we want what we want with no consideration for the other. We say things that are hurtful, we don’t work out any issues or friction points between one another, or we ignore them altogether. We do not take our vows seriously and walk away when life gets too difficult, and we just don’t want to put in the time to work things out. And to be sure there are some relationships that will not work out. But there are relationships that would IF we just put in the effort. Instead, we stand our ground and refuse to be flexible. We blame the other person for all that is wrong in the relationship and finally we leave. Not worrying one iota about the broken heart we have left behind. As Joe South sang: “It’s a dirty rotten shame…” And this is true no matter what kind of relationship we are talking about.
Jesus taught that we were to love (agape) each other. We should care about how the other person feels and be tender with their hearts. We have become a nation that is intent on being as rude as we possibly can with no regard for how anyone else feels. We think it is perfectly acceptable to say exactly what pops into our heads at any given moment no matter how inappropriate those words may be. That is not ok to do by the way. Just because we think something doesn’t mean we should say it out loud.
And the song doesn’t just point a finger at our personal relationships, it also points one at religious hypocrisy. Which is as rampant now as it was in the 60’s. We haven’t learned…but then I think we are slow learners sometimes. So, we don’t use our scriptures to help us to be better people. We don’t use them to help us be better disciples. We use them to further our own ulterior purposes. We want scripture to say what we want it to say. We don’t want it to be life changing. And our churches are in decline because of it. We are holding the word of God hostage to our own agendas when we should allow God to inform us about what it is God wants us to know. That takes time and a willingness to spend time reading the Bible and spending time in prayer and study. We become people who instead of speaking at God, we allow God to speak to us in all God’s wisdom and love.
In the final section of the song, Joe sings about how we are more concerned about our own pride and vanity and being right or perceived as perfect, so much so, that we are unrealistic about who we are and place unrealistic expectations on the people in our lives. Expectations that no one could live up to, so we tune out. We don’t take time to get to know people because we have judged them as people unworthy to get to know. We scapegoat, we gas-light, we ghost, and we play all manner of “games” that help us exclude or opt out without all the hard work any ending entails when we do them correctly. It truly is a dirty rotten shame…
I would like to challenge all of us, to change how we interact with one another. I challenge each of us to find ways to communicate with love and care to everyone we encounter, but especially to our loved ones. And of course, forgiveness plays a big part in all our relationships. So, I also challenge each of us to work on forgiving those who have hurt us and to seek forgiveness from those we have hurt.
Here is the thing: God has asked us to be kind…so maybe it is important for us to work on being kind to one another.
If you would like to listen to this great classic song, just click on the link below:Joe South – Games People Play (Lyrics) [HD] – Bing video