“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”
I am currently reading a book by C.J. Mahaney called Humility: True Greatness. It is a book about Christianity, achieving humility, and avoiding the sin of Pride. It is a very good book, and I am learning quite a bit from it. As a humorous note, the author at one point recommends to the reader that – as part of learning to be humble – he play as much Golf as possible. I got a chuckle out of this, being an avid golfer myself. However, then I started to really think about it, and I realized how truthful the author was about the sport. I will explain.
Much like this earthly life in this fallen world, perfection in Golf is impossible. It just ain’t gonna happen. My brother told me a joke one day about Golf. He said the Irish gave Golf to the Scots as a practical joke, and they still haven’t “gotten” it yet. How true. What is perfection in Golf? Would you say scratch Golf is perfection – in other words, parring every hole? No no my fellow hacker. Perfection would be a score of 18. Yup. A hole in one on every hole. Now you see our dilemma. Some holes are a par 5, and can be well over 500 yards. Good luck holing it in from there buddy.
So Golf is much like our life as a Christian. We strive to live up to a standard set by God, that we can never fully achieve, but must struggle every day to get closer to. Talk about a humbling experience! Because of man’s fall from grace, we suffer from sin. We cannot escape this fact. No one on Earth will achieve perfection. God recognizes this, and through His grace, and because of the death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ, we are granted eternal life. Because we repent of our sins, and because we want to be more like Jesus, we work every day to humble ourselves, avoid the sin of pride, and in the process come closer to God.
Let’s talk a little bit further about pride versus humility in Golf. Golf is truly a humiliating sport. We have all been there. Balls fall in the water. Balls go left and right. Sometimes they go nowhere. Fess up hackers. You and I both know we have whiffed a few in our lives. So have you ever seen a prideful golfer? Sure we have. Just look in the mirror. How many times have we stepped up to the tee with all of our buddies looking at us. Haven’t we tried to tell ourselves how great a shot we are going to hit, just to show our friends how great we are? On the first tee, with our golf partners looking, we are all Tiger Woods. After the ball slices into the woods, our pride will either consume us the rest of the way, or our humility will make for a peaceful, joyous round, in spite of our failures.
“But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
So in Golf, as in life, humility tends to make us better. When we are humble, we are calm. When we are humble, we can relinquish control. How wonderful those rare rounds of Golf, when everything is going well. Our mind is clear, and we can enjoy our surroundings, experiencing the nature around us. During these rare and elusive rounds, our muscles are loose, and our swing effortless. Then, as quickly as it appears, things change. The reality of our fallen world sets in, and we miss a shot. If we are not careful, pride sets in, causing us to get angry, tense. Suddenly, everything centers around ourselves, and our faults. Shot after shot fails to find its mark, until we are consumed. How difficult it is for us to nip that attitude in the bud, returning back to the peaceful calm that humility grants us.
So this weekend, when you are on the golf course, you have a choice. You can let pride consume you, or you can be humble. You can play Golf like a prideful creature of this fallen world, or like a humble servant of Christ.
Which will it be for you?