Take a deep breath. Relax. And say it with me now: “My name is _____ and I am Tiger Woods.”
In no way do I want to condone or legitimize what Tiger did. I’m not his apologist. He failed his wife. Big time.
But, I’m more concerned about our reactions to events like this. Sure, there is disappointment. I bet there are many kids who looked up to him. There may even be some anger. No one likes cheaters or repeat offenders (and he was both).
At some point though, shouldn’t we eventually get to a place where we say, “I am Tiger Woods.”
You have heard that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart. – Jesus (Matthew 5:27-29)
I’m sure many of us have read those verses. We probably felt good about reading them and said, “Yup, Jesus is right. He’s so smart.” But when a situation like the one with Tiger Woods becomes news, our hearts rage against verses like these.
We think, “Jesus didn’t really mean that!” But He did. I figure He probably even chose His words carefully considering He knew they would be recorded for all time. The principle is there:
Looking lustfully = Committing Adultery
Tiger Woods is an adulterer and unless one of us claims to have never, ever looked lustfully at someone, we are adulterers too. But that grates at our pride. It’s one thing to admit we’re flawed. It’s another thing altogether to admit we’ve screwed up just as much as Tiger. We want to weigh all our sin/junk/screw ups and come out lighter and holier than him. We want to pretend we’re better. But we’re not…unless Jesus was joking.
Shortly after the scandal broke, a buddy of mine sent an email to a bunch of folks. I can’t remember his exact words, but essentially he said, “Without the Holy Spirit and God’s grace, we are all Tiger Woods.”
His point is not to justify what Tiger did. He’s saying, given the right circumstances, we could find ourselves in Tiger’s shoes. Most likely, he made small decisions over time that steamrolled into larger, more destructive decisions. If we just count on ourselves being really good, we could very well end up in his situation.
Maybe it’s not adultery, but maybe it’s gluttony. Maybe it’s gossiping. Maybe it’s pride. Again, we want to have this hierarchy of sin where we can say ours isn’t as bad, but it all comes from the same place: a defiant heart.
Would it be unchristian of us to love the guy? He doesn’t “deserve” it, but again, do we really deserve God’s love? Who are we to have been given unmerited, unlimited grace and mercy to deny extending the same?
There are consequences to actions and rightly so, but as I said, I’m more concerned with our response as Christians than what he did. Did Christ not befriend prostitutes? Did he not dine with “sinners”?
There is a Tiger Woods in all of our lives: someone who has messed up big time in a public way. I believe it’s our job to help them through it. Not condone it, but be there unconditionally to help them make the right decisions. It’s easy to love people when they are perfect. It’s Christlike to love people when they aren’t.
And when we hear news of someone failing that we’re not closed to…shouldn’t we be the place where the gossip stops? No matter who we hear about that screwed up, shouldn’t we be the wall that puts out the wildfire of “news”? I once heard that “Christians don’t gossip, they share prayer requests.” How true.
When we hear the latest failure of _____(fill in anyone’s name), it’s right to pray for them. We should. But we don’t have to tell everyone, “Did you hear what so and so did? Imagine that. Terrible. Oh, we should pray for them.” I know there is a way to share a request legitimately, but where’s the line between gossip and sharing? It’s probably more prudent to leave it anonymous unless you really trust the person and you will actually pray for the “offender” right then.
It’s the times when someone screws up the most that they need prayer and a rock-solid friend. If someone at your church was making destructive decisions, would they feel good about confessing and receiving help, support, and prayer or would they be afraid they’d be kicked out, shunned, or slandered behind their back? Again, I’m not saying there is no time for discipline or consequences, but those should never be done without a healthy portion of grace, love, faith, and mercy.
Remember, we are all Tiger Woods.