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What Scottie Scheffler's Response to Arrest Says About True Character

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I planned to write today’s Daily Article about golfer Scottie Scheffler’s response to his early-morning arrest last Friday and the global coverage that has ensued. Then word came this morning that Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi died in a helicopter crash Sunday in northwestern Iran. A hard-line protégé of the country’s supreme leader, his death is likely to set off what the Atlantic is calling “a fierce scramble for power” in the Islamic nation.

The two stories offer the same reminder in starkly disparate ways: the time to prepare for the inevitable crises of life is before they happen.

Dwight Moody noted that “character is what you are in the dark.” However, our character is revealed to a skeptical world when the bright light of adversity shines on us. And none of us knows when that moment is coming.

To be the people we most want to be, there is a choice we can make right now. Its consequences will shape this world today and echo in the next world forever.

“That’s what I admire the most”

As everyone who follows the news knows, the world’s No. 1 golfer was arrested Friday morning. A man had been struck and killed by a shuttle bus earlier that morning; Scheffler tried to drive around the crash scene when he was arrested by an officer and taken to jail.

Golf Digest has an in-depth account of what happened and what happens next; most observers seem to think this was a misunderstanding. According to the Wall Street Journal, other golfers at the scene “described a rare level of pandemonium.” One said of Scheffler’s arrest, “That could have been any one of us.”

After he was booked and released, Scheffler stated, “There was a big misunderstanding of what I thought I was being asked to do. I never intended to disregard any of the instructions.” He added: “All of us involved in the tournament express our deepest sympathies to the family of the man who passed away in the earlier accident this morning. It truly puts everything in perspective.”

Amid all the controversy, Scheffler finished the tournament tied for eighth at 13-under. But my point was made by a commentator I heard respond to the story over the weekend: “Of all the things Scheffler could have said, you know what he didn’t say? He didn’t tell the officer, ‘Do you know who I am?’ He’s the world’s No. 1 golfer, but he didn’t try to use his status. That’s what I admire the most.”

“The physical organism through which Christ acts”

We cannot ask others to be what we are not or lead them further than we are willing to go. A dentist with bad teeth is unlikely to have a thriving practice. A lawyer in constant legal trouble will have few clients but himself.

This is especially true for Christians, since as C. S. Lewis noted, we claim that “Christ is actually operating through [us]; that the whole mass of Christians are the physical organism through which Christ acts—that we are his fingers and muscles, the cells of his body.”

As a result, seeking to be godly is our first step in persuading anyone else to be godly.

After Scottie Scheffler won his second Masters championship last month, he told interviewers: “I believe in Jesus. Ultimately, I think that’s what defines me the most.” He added, “I’ve been called to come out here, do my best to compete, and glorify God.”

It’s one thing to honor the Lord when you win golf’s most prestigious tournament. It’s another to act with humility when you are arrested and thrust into the glare of the global media.

“The splendor that irradiates our understanding”

Yesterday was Pentecost Sunday, commemorating the day when early Christians were “filled with the Spirit” and launched the mightiest spiritual movement the world has ever seen (Acts 2).

St. Hilary of Poitiers (c. 315–c. 367) was a champion of orthodoxy and one of the most brilliant theologians in Christian history. In his treatise On the Trinity, he wrote:

We receive the Spirit of truth so that we can know the things of God. In order to grasp this, consider how useless the faculties of the human body would become if they were denied their exercise. Our eyes cannot fulfill their task without light, either natural or artificial; our ears cannot react without sound vibrations, and in the absence of any odor our nostrils are ignorant of their function. . . . It is the same with the human soul. Unless it absorbs the gift of the Spirit through faith, the mind has the ability to know God but lacks the light necessary for that knowledge.

This unique gift which is in Christ is offered in its fullness to everyone. It is everywhere available, but it is given to each man in proportion to his readiness to receive it. Its presence is the fuller, the greater a man’s desire to be worthy of it. This gift will remain with us until the end of the world and will be our comfort in the time of waiting. By the favors it bestows, it is the pledge of our hope for the future, the light of our minds, and the splendor that irradiates our understanding.

St. Hilary was right: we experience the power of the Spirit to the degree that we wish to experience it. That decision is best made at the start of each day, seeking to be “filled” and controlled by the Spirit as we yield our lives to him (Ephesians 5:18).

Scottie Scheffler had no idea when last Friday began that he would soon find himself in a jail cell. You and I have no idea how this Monday will unfold. Consequently, the moment to submit to the Spirit and seek his empowering direction and holiness is now. The time to prepare for the crisis—or the opportunity—is before it comes.

The question I’ve written this article to ask

Billy Graham wrote: “The Holy Spirit is God himself, as he comes to live within us.” He noted that the Spirit “comes to convict us of our sin,” he “gives us new life” as we trust in Christ, and he “produces fruit in our lives” as we reflect his love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). Dr. Graham added, “This fruit comes as we yield ourselves to the Spirit.”

Then he closed with the question I’ve written this article to ask:

“How yielded is your life today?”

NOTE: In a culture where ideologies on sexuality conflict with Scripture, our latest book, Sacred Sexuality: Reclaiming God’s Design, offers the clarity you need. Addressing issues like homosexuality, transgenderism, and nonbinary identities with biblical truth and compassion, this book equips believers like you to guide the next generation with truth. Support Denison Forum by May 31, and receive this essential guide for navigating modern sexuality with our thanks.

Monday news to know:

Quote for the day:

“When we have the Holy Spirit we have all that is needed to be all that God desires us to be.” —A. W. Tozer

Photo Courtesy: ©Getty Images/Patrick Smith / Staff
Publish Date: May 20, 2024

Jim Denison, PhD, is a cultural theologian and the founder and CEO of Denison Ministries. Denison Ministries includes DenisonForum.org, First15.org, ChristianParenting.org, and FoundationsWithJanet.org. Jim speaks biblically into significant cultural issues at Denison Forum. He is the chief author of The Daily Article and has written more than 30 books, including The Coming Tsunamithe Biblical Insight to Tough Questions series, and The Fifth Great Awakening.

The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of CrosswalkHeadlines.

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