The recent public apology by golfer Tiger Woods for his extra marital affairs was a sober and carefully thought out response to both his fans and family for having let them down by his irresponsible behaviour over the last couple of years. The most striking thing he said was in my opinion the following, “ I stopped living according to my core values. I knew what I was doing was wrong but thought only about myself and thought I could get away with whatever I wanted to, I felt I was entitled. I had worked hard. Money and fame made me believe I was entitled. I was wrong and foolish. I don’t get to live by different rules. The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me “ Here Woods gets to the core of not just his own indiscretions but to a universal truth regarding our own attempts to rationalise wrongdoing, our sense of ‘entitlement’ for whatever reason to say that the rules do not apply to us. In his case fame and wealth put him beyond the normal constraints, until too late he realised that they actually didn’t. His betrayal was of his wife, his children and the larger body of people who admired not just his extraordinary golfing ability but their perceived notion of his personality and demeanour. Woods had been living a lie and at last he was found out, and in fairness did the honourable thing and abjectly apologised for his gross conduct.
On the larger canvas of our lives there is a responsibility just as onerous as family and friends, to our Creator that is seldom addressed in our secular age. We haven’t arrived on this planet just as a random collection of atoms accountable to nobody but ourselves and those who serve our self-interest. No, we were created by God Himself and wonderfully formed (Psalm 139:13) according to His Divine plan. We were created to live according to Divine laws and principles because we are moral beings and have an inner compass that helps us to distinguish right from wrong. Not only do we have a responsibility to our instinctual sense of morality but the Creator has also left us a body of written commands in the Bible that serve to enlighten our path as we seek to live a full and happy life. In fact the Word is described in many places in the Old Testament as a light for our path (Psalm 119:105 ) indicating that it illuminates our way, giving a Divine perspective on the myriad of moral choices that face all of us on our life’s journey . This might sound like so much poppycock to the enlightened 21st century mind or as a throwback to a time in our ‘religious’ past where constraints were set on almost every pleasurable activity by a group of male enforcers who seemed determined to squeeze every drop of joy out of day to day living. This view of religion is widespread and in certain circumstances (particularly in the Ireland of the 40‘s and 50‘s) not unjustified, but apart from denominational rules for their members , God’s Law is something entirely different and has a relevance for every single person created in the Divine image.
So we return to Tiger Woods comments about his sense of entitlement to break the rules, a view that many might plead in their lack of compliance to the higher law of God. This is the age of ‘entitlement’ and self-assertiveness, a time when everyone seems to be screaming for their rights and entitlements often without regard to personal responsibility and due compliance. Of course we are endowed with rights and every human person deserves basic human rights like food, shelter, love etc,. and we all should strenuously work to ensure that the weakest in our society enjoy these conditions, but we are also responsible to respond in obedience to that higher law that emanates from our Creator. When our sense of ‘entitlement’ obscures our need to bow before that higher Power then like Tiger Woods we have lost a proper perspective on life and our place in the scheme of things. Time after time the Jewish people walked away from their Divine accountability and lived without reference to the God who had chosen them and delivered them out of slavery in Egypt, and as a consequence reaped a bitter harvest. We, no less can walk away from our responsibility to live in harmony with those Laws which God set in place from the very foundation of the world. Jesus spoke of the immutability of that law when He said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” ( Matthew 5:17 ) Jesus, as the only man who ever totally complied with God’s law is reminding us of the importance that these ancient precepts had in His day and hold for all time, surely our incentive to be more diligent in the study and observance of them without equivocation. As Tiger Woods stood before the world’s press and expressed contrition for his neglect of family and social responsibilities, perhaps it is time for us to bow before God and confess our neglect of His laws and precepts. The stakes for many are far higher than family and professional fees, if Gods word is to be believed our eternal future may be on the line.