Everyone who follows sports now knows that, on the final hole of regulation play at the PGA Championship, Dustin Johnson unwittingly grounded his club in a bunker, resulting in a penalty that cost him a chance to win the PGA in the ensuing playoff. This past weekend at the LPGA Safeway Classic, Julie Inkster, a longtime veteran and highly respected Hall of Fame player, was disqualified for using a weighted donut on her club for practice swings while waiting to tee off. After a 30-minute wait to tee off on the 10th hole, the 50-year-old Inkster felt she needed to loosen up before hitting—but rules are rules and, like Johnson before her, she lost a chance to win a tournament because of rules violations.
I am of the opinion that golf has too many rules and that many of them are silly—but they are still the rules. I think sometimes that the rules need to be applied with common sense instead of with a “letter-of-the-law” mentality—but they are still the rules. And, if you are going to compete you have compete according to the rules. This, by the way, applies to life as well as sports, and the apostle Paul reminded us of that when he wrote to his young protégé Timothy and said:
And also if anyone competes in athletics, he is not crowned unless he competes according to the rules. (2 Timothy 2:5)
The Bible speaks of those things that are out of bounds for the believer, as well as those things that we need to be committed to if we are to honor the Savior. It speaks of love and mercy and compassion and purity, as well as speaking of avoiding those things that would discredit our Lord. Like Dustin Johnson and Julie Inkster, if we do not compete according to the rules, we forfeit the opportunity to win the prize—for the Bible speaks of the rewards of service for Christ in this life. Even better, competing according to the rules gives us the privilege one day of hearing Christ say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Infinitely greater than any trophy or championship, it is a prize worth giving our very best to receive.
Bill Crowder, Sport Spectrum Chaplain