In a recent tournament, professional golfers Jordan Spieth and Henrick Stenson found themselves in an almost unbelievable situation. They came to the tee box of the ninth hole and made their drives. As they walked down the fairway toward their balls a rules official approached them and asked which tee box they drove off of. As they looked back, they saw the tee box they hit from but then saw another tee box a little ways off. While they thought they had hit off the correct tee, they actually hit from the seventeenth tee.
The golfers were given a two stroke penalty for the mishap. After the match, both golfers gave an interview explaining how they could make such a mistake. Most of the interview was light hearted but there was one statement that I thought was more profound than they may have intended.
They were talking about the question of why penalize them with a two stroke penalty. Because of the course layout it was a mistake that was pretty easy to make. The reason the officials couldn’t just let it go is because these tournaments mean something. Professional golfers get endorsements based on their performance. But performance only matters if you abide by the rules. Especially in a tournament setting the rules must be followed.
But the point that Spieth and Stenson made that caught my attention was, after they made the mistake everyone who followed them would be informed of what happened. It was essentially guaranteed that because they made the mistake, no one else would be able to make it. Everyone would have the benefit of their mistake, but they didn’t have that same opportunity.
I can appreciate where they are coming from. It was a mistake that anyone could make and if someone would have told them, they wouldn’t have done it.
There are two bible truths that come to my mind from this story.
First, God has given us a book that is filled with mistakes that people have made. There is no excuse for us to sin. The temptations that we face are not new (Ecc 1:9-10, 1 Cor 10:13). John said that all sin comes from the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and pride (1 Jn 2:16). Studying the Bible allows us to see the sins and then the punishments so that we can avoid them (Rom 6:23).
God punished the world in the days of Noah because of the wickedness of the people. God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah because of evil sexual sins. God destroyed Nadab and Abihu for not respecting his instructions for worship. God destroyed Uzzah for disobeying a command. God destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel for their perverted religion. God destroyed Judah for their obstinance.
We have narratives of individuals like Cain and Abel who serve as a warning against hatred. We have the story of Jacob and Esau that serves as a warning against not appreciating the blessings that God has placed in front of us. We have the story of Moses to warn us of the possibility of missing out on the promised land. We have the story of David and Bathsheba to warn us of the temptations between men and women. We have the story of Solomon to warn us of the reality that we can be the smartest man in the world and be a fool if we forsake the law of God.
We have story after story after story to warn us and keep us from making the same mistakes. Romans 15:14 says that these things were written for our learning.
The second point is, we need to realize that God expects us to have learned from these mistakes. In Acts 17:30 Paul says, “The times of ignorance God has overlooked, but now he commands everyone everywhere to repent.”.
Can you imagine what it would be like for people following Spieth and Stenson to tee off from the wrong box? What would their reasoning be? Would it matter at all? If they said , “I feel”, or “I think”, we would say you are still wrong. We can sympathize with the first people who made that mistake, but we wouldn’t sympathize with someone with that attitude.
That is essentially what we do whenever we choose to live in a way that is contrary to the word of God. It is just as preposterous.
It is one thing to think that God’s people were destroyed for a lack of knowledge (Has 4:6), and a whole other thing to be destroyed for a lack of caring. We have all the knowledge we need in the word of God ( 2 Peter 1:3-7), and we will be judged with that fact in mind (Matt 12:41-42) in a way that is MORE serious than it was for those people destroyed in the past (Luke 12:48).
Consider the truth involved in this article and please make the decision to become a serious student of God’s word. Please join us here for worship and Bible studies.