On November 27, 2009, golfer Tiger Woods crashed his car, lighting a firestorm that has engulfed his entire life in flames. The charred remains left by his serial adulteries include his reputation, endorsements, marriage and career.
On February 19, 2010, he publicly asked for forgiveness for his adulteries. He is undergoing treatment as he works toward a restoration of his career and family.
Woods also addressed the collateral damage in his life. The media has become obsessed with him and his family. Cameras follow them everywhere and a million opinions become facts when ratings and money are at stake.
Celebrity websites, paid by how many people come to their website, make up outrageous lies, so they can profit financially. Opportunistic women appear out of nowhere hoping to become famous.
The bottom line is that Tiger admitted his mistakes and asked for forgiveness. Sadly, in a hostile, celebrity culture this is not likely to be received.
Using Tiger’s situation as an illustration of how difficult it is to incorporate forgiveness into our lives, we learn some lessons.
The apostle Paul went from being a murderer of Christians to being a child of God. Despite his validation from God (Acts 9:9-22), Barnabas had to convince the disciples to accept him (Acts 9:26-27).
In truth, no one should be more eager to forgive than Christians. Christ rescued us from certain death by his blood and he continually provides this blood for our sins (1 John 1:7).
We all sin (Romans 3:23) and if we are penitent and receive forgiveness from God, forgiveness should be forthcoming from the family of God, as well. It does not matter how repulsive we find the sins of others, all sin condemns and is subject to remission.
When someone repents, they acknowledge their sins. They are moving forward. If they stumble again, it does not invalidate their previous repentance, nor does it make them a hypocrite.
We all go to God repeatedly for the same sins and have complete faith that the Father will forgive them. Yet, we will not forgive others when they fall? (Matthew 18:21-22). Do we have different rules for ourselves than we do for others?
If so, we cannot ever hope to convince the world that repentance is possible. If we want the world to accept the gospel, we need to be people of forgiveness (1 John 1:9; Ephesians 1:7).