I love to watch professional women's tennis--though I must admit the past few years my watching dwindled to almost none. Imagine my shock when I ran across a headline recently concerning the American trained Russian Maria Sharapova returning to the court after being exiled to the sidelines for cheating. I admit I am prejudice--she has never been my favorite--by a long shot, but I also admit she has great talent. A superb athlete and tennis technician, she was a force to be reckoned with. She has beaten the best of the best and stood at the top of the heap for a long time. Then she was caught cheating---WHY?
This is the fourth year I have mentored/tutored my student through Kids Hope. After the first two years, I began to realize the most important things I could teach her were not necessarily academic subjects. We have spent a great deal of time the past two years talking over life lessons while playing games, reading books, and working on projects. I realized one day in the middle of a game--she was cheating. She would do anything to win---including cheating. We talked a great deal about wanting good things for our friends---there was no harm in not winning as long as you did your best---and still she was not a good loser. In fact she would throw the cards down--grab my dominoes--turn over the game board, just about anything to prevent a loss.
What is the difference in a world class professional athlete and a fifth grade student cheating and getting caught? There is no difference in the act of cheating itself. The urge to win--the need to be on top--the desire to claim the prize is so great--that we lose sight of the diminished glory which comes with cheating. A win by cheating is really a shallow victory at best.
The huge difference in the two cheating is my student was always remorseful--apologetic. She knows---her heart tells her--and at times when she realizes what she is doing she stops and corrects herself. NOW---we are not scoring 100% on the never cheating, but it is getting better. Mario Sharapova conversely has shown no remorse--no apology--no regret. It is business as usual with a point to prove. She seems to be thumping her nose at the world and her professional peers. NOW---I do not know her motive--perhaps in her heart she is embarrassed. All we have to go on is her overt actions and those lead us to believe she is only sorry she got caught.
When we sin, we are to confess our sin, repent of that sin, and turn from it. Most of us have no problem confessing it, and even repenting is doable, but the turning from it when in the eyes of the world we will lose status---that is heavy. We forget God's laws are for our good--not a random set of rules to make life difficult. We knowingly and defiantly ignore or out right break those laws for a good life. And then we wonder why life is hard--why things don't go our way--why we seem to have made enemies? Why cheat--when the cost is so high? The glory of the gold medal glares in our eyes and blocks the view of what is truly important the eternal prize. Why cheat--because we think we are losing and lose sight that there is no greater prize than the mantle of integrity. A prize for all eternity.