I am somewhat of a sports fan. OK, I am a huge sports fan. As my wife often says, it doesn't matter what sport it is, if its on TV, I will watch it (figure skating and cheerleading are noted exceptions).
Sports certainly provide great entertainment and most athletes are held in high esteem in our culture. However, in recent days we have seen numerous athletes whose images have been tarnished, including Michael Phelps, Alex Rodriguez and Charles Barkley.
As athletes are sinful humans just like us, their weaknesses and failures shouldn't be surprising. Nevertheless, there is much that we can learn from their transgressions. I have found this to be especially true with recent examples where these athletes have been "caught" and have been forced to admit to their transgressions.
Transgression isn't exactly the right word here, at least from the perspective of those making the admissions. Rather, Phelps said that he "made a mistake" and Rodriguez confessed that he was "stupid and immature".
We all have a tendency to somehow justify what we have done and try to come out looking as good as we possibly can. We blame our failures on our circumstances, on others, or simply try to minimize our failure. However, what we call a mistake, the Bible calls sin, rebellion against a holy God.
Instead of justifying or minimizing, the Biblical response to sin is repentance. Repentance literally means a change in direction, and consists of three important steps: confession, restitution, and change.
When we repent of our sin, we must confess (agree with God, 1 John 1:9), first to God himself (Psalm 51:4), and then to those that we have sinned against. Once we have confessed we must make restitution if the situation calls for it (for Rodriguez, for example, this could mean returning his MVP trophy won when taking steroids). Finally, true repentance means a commitment to change our behavior in order to avoid repeating the sin in the future (Acts 26:20).
While true repentance is hard, its fruit is well worth it. Repentance restores us to God and gives us the blessings of knowing that our sins our forgiven (Psalm 32). It releases us from guilt as well as the consequences that come from unconfessed sin (Psalm 51). Finally, true repentance often opens up wonderful opportunities to be a witness to others of what God has done for us.
For more on repentance, take a look at 2 Cor. 7:8-12 and Luke 7:11-32.
- Chris Carr
- I am a husband to Eva, father of 4, pastor, and most of all passionate follower of Jesus Christ. The focus of my life is to make the most of every opportunity God gives me to bring glory to Him. Outside of the time spent in my role as a pastor, I spend most of my time with my family -- a good deal of that coaching various sports teams that my children are involved with. Every fall and winter you will find me rushing to the woods of Indiana and West Virginia in search of a monster whitetail buck.