Last week, Nike released this picture after the recent success of Tiger Woods, who has reclaimed the #1 ranking in golf after his public fall from grace in 2009. The message of this picture is evident: “When you are winning, then all of your past mistakes are forgiven.” Certainly, winning can produce many desired earthly rewards. For example, Tiger Woods earned 1.1 million dollars for winning the Bay Hill Tournament a couple of weeks ago and has earned 3.7 million dollars this year by competing in only 5 events so far. This doesn’t even take into account the millions of dollars he has earned in endorsements and advertising. Needless to day, Tiger Woods is doing just fine these days as far as finances are concerned. However, does his money and trophies absolve him of his infidelity, hypocrisy, and arrogance revealed in 2009? In other words, can his current money, trophies and success buy his forgiveness?
- The rich man discussed in Luke 16:19-31 would say “no.” Although he seemingly had everything whereas Lazarus seemingly had nothing, he wound up “in torment” after his death; yet, Lazarus was “at Abraham’s side.” At this point, all of the money and accolades the world had to offer could not rescue him from his torment.
- The rich fool discussed in Luke 12:13-21 would say “no.” Even though he had more money and possessions than he knew what to do with here upon earth, they were of no value to him when his life ended and he had to give an account to God.
- Jesus would answer “no,” as he said, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal” (Matt. 6:19).
- Again, Jesus would answer “no,” as he said, “For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26).
- Paul would answer “no,” as he wrote, “As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy” (1 Tim. 6:17)
My purpose of this blog is not to demonize Tiger Woods. I actually pray that his story will wind up being one of redemption. However, winning golf tournaments will not bring about redemption. What will take care of everything for him is the same thing that will take care of everything for us, which is salvation in Jesus Christ. The sins of Tiger Woods are no greater than our sins. We all need a story of redemption, which is found only in Jesus Christ. Because of the blood of Jesus, we may receive the forgiveness of sins (Matt. 26:28) and the gift of eternal life (Rom. 6:23b.) if we will become a Christian (Acts 2:38). By being a Christian, we are:
- Able to be “at Abraham’s side” upon our death (Luke 16:22).
- Able to be “rich toward God” (Luke 12:21b.).
- Able to “lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20).
- Able to keep our soul (Matt. 16:24-26).
- Able to store “up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life” (1 Tim. 6:19).
Does winning take care of everything? No! Jesus alone takes care of everything. Only by being in Christ can a person truly be “more than conquerors” (Rom. 8:37). Only a Christian, at the end of his/her life, has the assurance that he/she will receive the “crown of righteousness” (2 Tim. 4:8). That crown will be awarded to anyone who is a child of God, regardless of his/her bank account, trophies won, promotions acquired, awards received or any other accolades here upon this earth. Tiger Woods may be enjoying earthly success at this moment, but his eternal success will depend upon whether he becomes a Christian, which is true for everyone of us. The crown of righteousness is the only trophy that matters.