Thursday, November 11, 2010

Integrity With A Cost

When it comes to professional golfers, Brian Davis isn't the best-known name in the game. He’s not even in the top one hundred. But earlier this summer, he had a huge chance to move up in the PGA rankings. Davis found himself tied for the lead and in a sudden death playoff with Jim Furyk at the Verizon Heritage Open. This was his first and best shot at winning a PGA Tour tournament. The first place prize was over $1 million.

Davis's approach shot on the first hole of the playoff missed the green and rested in the rough. When he tried to punch the ball up onto the green, his club grazed a stray weed on his backswing. So what? Well, there’s this rule: Hitting any material around your ball during your backswing constitutes a violation of the rule against moving loose impediments, and is an immediate two-stroke penalty. If the penalty is called, he loses the playoff.

Silly rule? Maybe. But, that’s the nature of golf and everyone who plays professionally knows that. Davis knew the rule. He saw the weed his ball rested on move on his backswing. So, he called the violation on himself. Immediately after the shot, Davis called over a rules official, who conferred with television replays and confirmed the movement—movement which was only visible on slow-motion. As soon as the replays confirmed the violation, Davis conceded the victory to Furyk.

Every golfer’s dream is to win. So, imagine having the fulfillment of your life's dream within your grasp and you make a small mistake. If you say something, your dream is gone—at least for that day. If you don't say anything, you’ll probably get away with it. Would you own up to the mistake, or would you keep quiet and hope for the best? For Brian Davis the answer was clear. He knew that in golf, honesty is more important than victory.

In Ephesians 4, Paul tells the believers to put off the old and put on the new—like taking off an old, stinky shirt and putting on a new, clean one. I love this metaphor because Paul not only tells us to discard the bad, but he gives us a replacement of something good. Check this one out.

Therefore each of you must put off falsehood and speak truthfully to your neighbor, for we are all members of one body. Ephesians 4.25

Put off falsehood. Discard lies. Throw out dishonest gain. Trash exaggerations. Dispose of any misrepresentations. Instead… put on truth. Tell the whole truth. Report things accurately. Present yourself honestly. Value integrity.

The reason Paul gives us for living lives of honesty is that we are members of the body, the Body of Christ. We represent him. We represent each other. This is part of our identity as adopted, redeemed, and sealed children of God. Because we belong, we behave in a distinct way.

Is there any dishonesty, half-truths, white lies, exaggerations, or misrepresentations that you need to throw away or make amends for? As you examine your life this week, think about what Brian Davis valued most. Speaking the truth was more valuable than personal gain. Character was worth more than victory. Acts of integrity put a smile on God’s face and give the Body of Christ credibility.

This week's author- Phil Niekerk, small groups pastor

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