He is the most recognizable single sports figure in the world and has earned nearly a billion dollars to date. But now, some of his staggering income may vanish forever in what may become the single biggest fall from sports grace ever!
He is Tiger Woods, the golfer who has dominated his sport more than any other. He may, in fact, have dominated his sport more than anyone has ever controlled any sport for that matter. His name has become synonymous with golf and has single-handedly lifted the sport to heights it enjoys today. But the recent scandal revealing his extra-marital activities may not affect his skill, but has surely begun to scare off a host of endorsers now that their prized athlete’s clean image has fallen into the gutter.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that advertisers have not aired TV commercials featuring Woods since shortly after the scandal broke. And Bloomberg News said that marketers have pulled all Tiger Woods ads from prime- time television broadcast networks, and 19 cable channels did likewise. The loss of income due to endorsement deals gone south is huge to Woods since estimates show that a whopping 90% of the golfer’s billion dollar earnings have come via that route.
Sin brings consequences. They may come soon. Or they may come later. But they will come. But the outward effects of sin are not always detectable in this life. In his letter to young Timothy, the apostle Paul wrote, “Some men's sins are clearly evident, preceding them to judgment, but those of some men follow later. Likewise, the good works of some are clearly evident, and those that are otherwise cannot be hidden.” (1 Timothy 5:24-25)
The bottom line is that while the knowledge of, and judgment for, sin may escape the eyes of finite men, the Bible assures in Hebrews 4 that nothing gets past the notice of an all-knowing God. Verse 13 reads, “And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” As Moses put it in Numbers 32:23, “and be sure your sin will find you out.”
No doubt millions of adoring Tiger fans will quickly forgive and forget. They may write off their idol’s actions as understandable. After all, he is filthy rich and he is the world’s most famous sports figure. That makes him a helpless target by scores of thrill-seeking and money-seeking women, making resisting all the temptations impractical. Some will turn their heads because they are blinded by the love of the sport. And there are those who feel that all eventually ends well since his offended wife stands to get some $300 million of his estate, should the couple part ways due to the high profile mess.
But what is most serious and most tragic is that some will make light of the golfer’s repeated indiscretions because they are simply blinded to the seriousness and consequences of sin. Scripture is clear that all sin is an offense to a Holy God and worthy of His judgement. (Romans 1:18-20) But it also reveals the increased level of seriousness when it comes in the form of Tiger Woods’ offense. 1 Corinthians 6:18 records the apostle’s words of warning. “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”
A sobered and repentant David realized the extent of his similar act in Psalm 51 where he confessed his hideous sin and did so to the one he offended most. Verses 3-4 read, “For I acknowledge my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against You, You only, have I sinned, and done this evil in Your sight.”
Tiger’s future, at least in the forum of public opinion, is up for grabs. But his primary problem remains not the regaining of his scared reputation, the loss of his highly lucrative endorsement deals, or even the repairing of the scared broken trust with his wife and family. His most crucial need now is to see what David saw and do what David did. What matters most now is that he ask God what David asked God in verses Psalm 51:910. David cried out, “Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God.”
Because the God of the Bible is also a God of love and mercy, David’s desperate plea is a miraculous possibility. It is within reach of any sinner - whether he be poor or rich. But the full spiritual repair of the eternal breech between God and man requires something huge and something personal. It requires the full admission of one’s own sinfulness. And it requires a fully faith-based acceptance and trust in Christ’s sacrifice for sin – something motivated by a full understanding of the words He Himself offered in Matthew 16:25-26.
“For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”