by Tank Tankersley,
Please pardon my immodesty in observing that I have something in common with the apostle Paul, that “super Christian”. Like him I am well aware that of sinners “I am chief” (1 Timothy 1:15). It’s best to stipulate this right off the bat, lest my remarks be deemed unduly harsh.
A high-profile sports figure admits to breaking God’s seventh commandment, but is unlikely to put it quite like that, for high-profile sports figures seldom reckon with God. Such a revelation hardly shocks anybody, for we’ve grown sadly accustomed to well-known sports figures providing compelling examples of how not to live.
Such conduct is hardly limited to sports figures, of course. It occurs in business, and in education, and in the arts, and … And then there are the politicians, compared to whom representatives of virtually every other endeavor shine as exemplars of righteousness. But forgive me, for I but state the obvious.
It is also true that those of us not in the public eye regularly disappoint God. Sin is not monopolized by celebrities. But when the common man sins, he does not as a rule call a press conference to explain it away, and it is this “explaining away” that I now consider.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:8-10). Sin can be forgiven. God will forgive, and we sinners ought to forgive other sinners, “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). The “all” encompasses you and me. But before sin can be forgiven, it must be acknowledged, and it seldom is at the press conference. Every time someone of note is caught in the wrong bed, or with his hand in the cash drawer, or engaging in sundry other types of sinful behavior, I begin to watch for the inevitable explanations and justifications that will follow, and the words “mistake,” “indiscretion,” and “error in judgment” will always figure prominently therein. These words do not qualify as an acknowledgment of sin. A mistake is forgetting to set your alarm clock. An indiscretion is putting all your money in the stock market just before it heads south. An error in judgment is choosing the wrong club and paying for it with a double bogey. None of these offends God. Sin does.
David, when rebuked for his adultery and murder by Nathan, said, “I have sinned against the Lord” (2 Samuel 12:13). I have never heard those words uttered at a press conference called by “someone important” who’s been caught. I do not expect to.
Enough of this nambpamby, wishy-washy “mistake, indiscretion, and error in judgment” trip. Those are weasel words, words that no real man acknowledging sin would use. But real men are seldom to be found amongst our sports heroes, movie stars, business magnates, pliticians, and the like. We would like to find some, of course. We search oh so longinglly, yet mostly in vain.