By Tim Hall
Do we pursue success without regard to what is right?
Millions of avid fans followed Mark McGwire’s historic home run chase in 1998. The record he pursued was a hallowed one: the single season home run record.
Roger Maris had broken Babe Ruth’s mark when he hit 61 in 1961. Many felt that was a mark that would never be broken.
Two players chased Maris’ feat in 1998. Sammy Sosa and McGwire leapfrogged over each other into the lead throughout the season.
As McGwire stood on the threshold of setting a new record, the nation held its collective breath. (Barry Bonds would go on to break McGwire’s record with 73 dingers in 2001.)
This past Monday, McGwire admitted what has been widely thought for the past few years: He used performance enhancing drugs during that part of his career. No, they had not yet been banned by professional baseball, but U.S. law made them illegal without a doctor’s supervision.
“Wait,” someone might interrupt, “McGwire didn’t lie about it.” When he testified before a congressional committee in March 2005, he refused to say anything about the charge that he used banned substances. Other players testified that they never took any of those drugs, and some of them are now facing charges for committing perjury. But not McGwire.
Is it not a lie when we live as if we’re not doing anything wrong, when we know we are? Does one have to lie with his lips in order for it to be categorized as dishonesty?
Jesus had strong words for those whose lives don’t match their claims: “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you devour widows’ houses, and for a pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive greater condemnation” (Matthew 23:14, NKJV).
These leaders regarded themselves as the epitome of religious fervor. But an inspection of their deeds revealed glaring inconsistencies. Their mouths said all the right things, but their actions didn’t.
Paul was careful to maintain his integrity. He wrote how he planned to transport the funds given for the relief of those in Judea: “For we are taking pains to do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but also in the eyes of men” (2 Corinthians 8:21, NIV).
Paul knew that people often deceive one another. No one, though, can deceive God.
Here’s the way to test our actions: “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23,24).
“I wish I had never touched steroids,” McGwire said on Monday. So do we, Mark. So do we.
By Tim Hall