Things are getting kind of bizarre in the story of Tiger Woods, the world’s top-ranked golfer. News broke early Tuesday that an ambulance had been dispatched to his Florida mansion sometime around 2:30 a.m. in response to a 911 call. The ambulance picked up Barbro Holmberg, Woods’ mother-in-law. She was rushed to a local hospital and listed as an “advanced life support” patient. Such a listing simply means that paramedics went beyond basic CPR methods in helping her. She was admitted for “stomach pain,” evidently responded well to treatment, and was released Tuesday afternoon to return to Woods’ home.
This was just the latest chapter in a sad series of events that have played out over the past couple of weeks. The timeline runs like this:
-At 2:25 a.m. of November 27th, Woods crashes his vehicle into a fire hydrant and his neighbor’s tree. He is taken to a local hospital and treated for minor facial lacerations. He is quickly released and returns home. (Woods refuses to talk to Florida State Troopers for the next three days, and is finally cited for careless driving and fined $164.)
-Shortly after the accident, the tabloids and internet become abuzz with rumors of Woods’ marital infidelity. (As of now, it’s impossible to sort out fact from lies, but the current number of alleged mistresses stands anywhere from seven to ten.)
-On November 29th, Woods releases a statement on his website in which he says the accident was his fault and asks for privacy while his family works through a difficult time.
-On November 30th, it is announced that Woods will not be participating in his next scheduled golf tournament. The given reason for his withdrawal is injuries from the accident.
-On December 2nd, Woods releases a new statement in which he says, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart.”
-A few days later, several media outlets begin reporting that Woods’ wife, Elin Nordegren, has moved out of the house. (I haven’t heard whether or not she took the couple’s two-year old daughter and infant son with her.)
-Then comes Tuesday’s story about the mother-in-law being rushed to the hospital in the middle of the night.
As for Woods, he still hasn’t been seen publicly since his accident. Whatever the exact details of everything are, it now seems fairly obvious that it’s a sad situation. The entire family needs our prayers. I have been praying for them, and I hope you will as well.
With that said, I’d like to offer some Biblical lessons here. I don’t do this to kick Tiger Woods while he is down. As I said, I’m praying sincere prayers for him and his family. I offer these merely as a way to view the story through the lens of God’s written word.
Lesson #1: A son needs his daddy. Tiger’s father, Earl, died on May 3rd, 2006. He was a military man who stood for honesty, integrity, and responsibility. Up until his death, he was the driving influence in Tiger’s life. He was the one who molded young Tiger into a golf prodigy. Later on he wrote two books about his no-nonsense parenting style. Tiger has often mentioned how much he misses his dad. In 1st Thessalonians 2:11, the Bible teaches that a father should exhort, comfort, and charge his children. Proverbs 1:8 speaks of a father instructing his son. Would Tiger be in the mess he’s in now if his dad was still alive? No one can say for sure, but many would answer, “No.”
Lesson #2: Every husband must work at remaining sexually satisfied with his wife. Affairs typically occur when husbands aren’t sexually satisfied with their wives alone. The lust for more sex or “different” sex is a powerful, primal thing. That’s why Proverbs 5:18-19 warns: “Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth. As a loving deer and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and always be enraptured with her love.”
Lesson #3: The sin of adultery is a fire that burns the one who commits it. Proverbs 6:27-28 says: “Can a man take fire to his bosom and his clothes not be burned? Can one walk on hot coals and his feet not be seared?” 1st Corinthians 6:18 says: “Flee sexual immorality. Every sin that a man does is outside the body, but he who commits sexual immorality sins against his own body.”
Lesson #4: No matter how much success, fame, and wealth a man has, his world can still come tumbling down if he doesn’t practice self-control. Proverbs 25:28 says: “Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.” A city without walls is wide open to be attacked and destroyed. So is a life lived without self-control.
Lesson #5: If you want to fall, be full of pride. Tiger Woods is well known for being supremely confident in his abilities, even to the point of being egotistical. Proverbs 16:18 says: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” Surely one of Woods’ motivations for committing adultery was that his ego told him he could get away with it.
Lesson #6: All the self-will one can muster will eventually lose out to the power of the flesh (that inborn sinful nature of individuals). Woods’ strong will on the golf course is a major part of what makes him so good. But no man is so strong-willed that he can keep his inner nature of sin at bay for long. In Romans 7:18-19, the apostle Paul writes: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find. For the good that I will to do, I do not do; but the evil I will not to do, that I practice.”
Lesson #7: Your sins WILL eventually be discovered. Numbers 32:23 says: “…be sure your sin will find you out.” Isaiah 29:15 says: “Woe to those who seek deep to hide their counsel far from the Lord, and their works are in the dark. They say, ‘Who sees us?” and ‘Who knows us?'”
Lesson #8: Wealth doesn’t equate to contentment. Even though Woods has earned multiplied millions through his golfing and endorsements, there was obviously still something that prevented him from being content with his family life. 1st Timothy 6:6-8 says: “Now godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.”
Lesson #9: When you raise a child to worship the idol of sports, you shouldn’t be surprised when that child grows up to be lacking in morality and character. As I mentioned earlier, Earl Woods was an uncommonly influential father. No one can deny that he raised a champion golfer. But all those championships came at a high price. As far back as Tiger can remember, Earl led him to obsess over the sport of golf and devote himself fanactically to mastering it. Earl never taught Tiger how to keep golf in proper perspective and allow his spiritual side to develop. That inevitably caused some chinks in Tiger’s character and morality. In Matthew 16:26, Jesus asks the profound question, “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?”
Lesson #10: Buddhism simply cannot offer the help people need. By Woods’ own admission, he is something of a nominal Buddhist through his mother, who is from Thailand. He especially values the Buddhist practice of meditation. In a March, 2008 interview with Reuters, Woods said of Buddhism, “In the Buddhist religion, you have to work for it yourself internally in order to achieve anything in life…and in Buddhism to set up the next life. But in Buddhism it’s all about what you do and internal work.” Sadly, this religion and philosophy fly right in the face of Christ’s words from John 14:6: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” They also go against Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God., not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
So, let me close by saying that Tiger Woods is just like anybody else on planet Earth in that he needs to place his faith (belief) in Jesus as his personal Savior. That will bring him forgiveness of sin (Colossians 1:14), spiritual life (John 5:40), salvation (Acts 16:30-31), and the empowerment to resist temptation and sin (Philippians 4:13). Certainly Tiger’s life has taken a tragic turn for the worse, but if that turn leads him to the open arms of Jesus, the best will be yet to come for him. That’s my prayer, for not only Tiger but his entire family.