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I play golf twice a week, or I should say, I attempt to play golf twice a week.
In truth, I’m not bad: I usually score in the mid to low 90’s, but along the way, I do have issues with controlling my temper when I duff a shot or involuntarily send a ball into Poseidon’s domain. I have been known to use choice verbiage, slam my club into the ground, or gently toss my wedge about 50 feet (it’s just so I don’t have to walk it over to the cart. Well, OK…you got me- that’s not really the reason.)
Overall, this behavior is not very “godly” of me, is it?
Yesterday, while I was apologizing to one of my regular golf “buddies” for behaving so badly, excusing it by saying that I am just too hard on myself, he reminded me of things I say on my blogs about how Believers need to act in public and set a good example. I asked him, in a jokingly way, if he was throwing my own words in my face, and he smiled and said, “Yes, I am.”
It made me stop to think how hard it is for us to practice what we preach. Now, that in and of itself is not a terribly unique or outstandingly remarkable observation; in fact, it is something that we all know. But it is also something that we need to work to achieve because when we DO practice what we preach, we can be more effective in proving that what we are saying is valid and useful.
After all, if someone preaches about sinning less in their life (as I often do) but makes no progress on their own, then how can you trust that they even know what they are talking about? Yes, there is the old adage, “Those who can’t do, teach” but that is no excuse in real life.
For instance, how many of you would trust a skinny chef? How many of you would hire a contractor who needs to borrow your tools?
We should always be aware of what we say so that we do not insult or hurt anyone, but we also need to be careful of what we say because we may have to eat those words one day. I know that in my case if I had to eat words that I use when golfing I will have a very upset stomach and a bad flavor in my mouth for days. In truth, there ain’t enough Pepto-Bismol in the world to handle what I would have to deal with!
NOTE: there are two “Acid Test” proofs of one’s spiritual maturity:
(1) driving in traffic without screaming at the other drivers; and
(2) golfing without cursing.
So what is my point to all this? It is simply that we need to learn to do what the apostle James (James 3:1-12) tells us is the most difficult thing there is to do: control the tongue. We must think first, and (again Jimmy gives good advice here) be quick to listen, slow to speak and even slower to get angry. After having a double or triple bogie during the game, and after all the anger and club smashing I did yesterday (not all that much, but more than two or three times), I still ended up within a stroke or two of where I usually end up, so what, really, is the big deal?
I’ll tell you what the big deal is: it is my ego, it is my pride, and it is my failure to accept I made a mistake because I think I SHOULD be better than that. And I won’t accept that I’m not. Oh, gee- that’s gonna fall under the pride thing again, isn’t it?
So thank you, Frank, for throwing my own words back in my face.
I am going to close today’s message with this piece of advice, which I pray I will remember next time I am on the links:
You never know when you will have to eat your words, so make sure your words are always sweet.