Another sports star falls, then a public apology follows. It is a sad, repeated story. Only time will tell if the apology is genuine or forced. Today’s apology from an IU basketball star caught my attention, not because it was different, but because of the common error it conveyed. “I’ve made a bad decision but my bad decisions do not define who I am.” My concern is how many, whether athletes or non-athletes have bought into this positivistic view of oneself. Think about it, if our decisions/actions do not define us, what does?
First, scriptures tell us our decisions do define us, good or bad. Proverbs 20:11 “Even a child makes himself known by his acts, by whether his conduct is pure and upright.” Our decisions/actions/conduct make it known who we are. Notice the language in Proverbs 20 dig deeper than decisions defining us, but that they are really giving everyone else a glimpse into what is inside of us. Not only this but we must give an account for our decisions, thoughts, and words to God (Romans 14:12, Matthew 12:36).
Second, scriptures tell a different side of what this athlete may be trying to convey. Isaiah 64:6 “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” We light to think too highly of ourselves. We want to believe that things we say, actions we do, are not the real me. Well in all honesty, they aren’t, but it is not because we are better than the things we do, but because we are worse. Matthew 15 “16“Are you still so dull?” Jesus asked them. 17“Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? 18But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. 19For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander. 20These are what defile a person; but eating with unwashed hands does not defile them.” It is our of the core of who we are that all these things flow.
Third, too many today leave the definition of oneself to oneself. Jeremiah 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” Being true to ourself is biblically impossible unless we want to own up to our deep capacity to sin. Unfortunately we even fall short in being able to be honest and truthful about this.
Our problem seems to be we would rather define who we are because we don’t like our own actions and we don’t like God’s description of us. It leaves us in a big mess, falling short. This is why the gospel is good news. Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This is why true repentance always goes through the cross and Christ. True repentance does not want to convince others we are better than our actions, but that our actions need a Savior, need forgiveness. We need transformation. We need to be forgiven of sin and turned from sin, because lets face it, even we don’t like who we are. This is why we try to convince others that our decisions and actions don’t define us. We would like to give them a better definition. Our actions do define us, but are we listening to the definition they are giving? We are sinners, we need a savior.