The season of Lent is a time of soul searching whereby we examine our hearts and rededicate our lives. As Tiger Woods steps forward to make a declaration pertaining to his past indiscretions and future plans, we are given an opportunity to witness the true meaning of Lent in his life and ours. What does true repentance look like and what, if anything, is our role in responding to Tiger Woods?

The Bible is not mute on the subject of role models who fall. King David of Israel slept with a woman who wasn’t his wife and then made certain that her husband would be killed in order to cover his crime. The king’s actions were not without grave consequences and yet, he did something that resulted in him being forever known as a “Man after God’s own heart” and a beloved hero of the faith. As greatly as he sinned, no one repented better than King David.

The mark of true repentance is an acknowledgement of wrongs, a genuine change of heart and intentional steps to right wrongs by walking upright in the days ahead. The beauty of repentance is that it is the key to unlocking the door to forgiveness and freedom to step beyond the past. The sincerity of Tiger Wood’s contrition will be found not in a prepared statement but in what lies beneath, not in words spoken but in actions taken in venues less visible to the general public.
How we respond to Tiger Woods is a reflection on our understanding of forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not mean that we now embrace a lesser standard of moral conduct. It is not a statement of condoning wrongs committed. To forgive Tiger Woods is to decide not to forever hold him to his past but to allow him the opportunity to prove his repentance by his actions in the days ahead. Forgiveness is based in love and the Bible tells us “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.” (I Corinthians 13:1-4)

Rev. Bill Shuler is pastor of Capital Life Church in Arlington, Virginia and a frequent contributor to the Fox Forum.

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