Perhaps no single event in baseball’s recent past so completely speaks to the issue of choices and their consequences as the steroid scandals of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Some of the most beloved and admired players of that era found their records and reputations badly tarnished by the choice to use performance-enhancing drugs to expand their abilities. Players who had once seemed an automatic lock for Cooperstown found themselves on the outside looking in at Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Years later, these players are still spoken of with an unstated but ever-present asterisk. Their accomplishments—in some cases record-breaking—are continually minimized, questioned, and downplayed because of their part in the whole steroid era, whether it was proven or not. In the end, their desire to achieve greatness drove them to make a choice, but the consequences of that choice robbed them of the greatness they sought.
In my judgment, this is one of the most profound issues in life for every one of us. Recognizing that our choices are not an end in themselves is critical, for those choices do have consequences. Just as one of the basic laws of physics states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, our choices do in fact have reactionary consequences that can have tremendous implications for the rest of our lives. Paul wrote to the churches of Galatia:
Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life (Galatians 6:7-8).
This law of sowing and reaping applies to us all, because our choices really do matter! This is one of the millions of reasons why we are so dependent on God. He is not only the source of wisdom (which can fundamentally improve our decision-making), He is also the One who promises to guide us in our living. And that guidance impacts how we choose as well as how we live. Proverbs says, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (3:5-6).
What a promise! We do not need to engage life and its choices limited to our own resources, for we have God. Choosing to trust and follow Him will not necessarily lead to a perpetually easy and pain-free life, but the grace of God that calls us to choices that honor Him will also enable us to stand in His strength—whatever the consequences of choosing Him may be.
Bill Crowder, Sports Spectrum Chaplain