Tag Archive: truth

In 2012, on a sunny February day, Ryan Braun stood before a collection of media outlets and gave a speech.  Earlier, Braun had won an arbitration hearing that overturned a 50-game suspension he had received for violating MLB’s drug policy.  Press conferences have become the societal norm in such situations.  Braun’s handlers, and no doubt Braun himself, were going to use this opportunity to get in the last word on the matter and move forward.  You can watch the whole press conference here.

An athlete testing positive for performance enhancing drugs (PED) is not a shocking revelation.  It happens frequently enough that the public outrage is little more than a scroll along the bottom of your television set on the major sports networks or an even briefer television segment.  Braun’s case however was different.  The Milwaukee Brewer’s outfielder won the 2011 National League MVP, beating out Los Angeles Dodger Matt Kemp.  Winning such an award, when arguably Kemp was the better player during the 2011 season put Braun in the national spotlight and in the cross hairs.

Adding to the Braun drama was also the contract extension that he signed in April 2011.  Previously signed by the Brewers in 2008 to a 7 year deal at $40.5 million, the Brewers locked Braun in for an additional 5 years at $105 million.  The signing set Braun up as the center piece of the Brewers organization until 2020, presumably a strong player to build around.  Upon signing the contract, Braun was quoted as saying, “From here on out the only thing that really matters is winning.”

I do not think anyone put much stock into those word that spring.  Some people believe the mind subconsciously lets out our most guarded secrets.  Jesus did say, “out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” (Mat. 12:34).  I am not sure if this applies specifically to Braun’s words or if I am merely being anachronistic with the information I now have at my finger tips.  After all, I can think of no athlete in any of the major sports that would take a different approach to their profession.  Winning is the reason they play the game.  Winning is why franchise owners spend millions each year so that grown men can play games to the amusement of the masses.

Whatever the truth of the matter, Braun’s elation at signing a new contract, winning an MVP award, and successfully fending off a 50-game suspension came crashing down into the miry clay of despondency last week.

"I told a lie, THIS BIG!"

“I told a lie, THIS BIG!”

MLB handed down a 65-game suspension to Braun for violating the league’s Joint Drug Program.  Sources report Braun negotiated the terms of his suspension with MLB executives and will not appeal.  The number of games is significant because it means his 2013 season is over.  The suspension is without pay, which means Braun will lose roughly $3.85 million.  When compared with his potential earnings of $141.65 million throughout the life of his contract, this season’s loss appears insignificant.

My point with this post is not to go over Braun’s financials, nor is it even to comment on the use of PEDs in professional sports.  It is the reaction of Braun and those around him to the years of deception that has been at work.  Braun’s previous suspension was overturned on a technicality.  The technician handling the sample did not send it directly to a lab, but kept it refrigerated for a few days before sending it off to be tested.  Despite his best attempts at moving beyond the controversy after the suspension was overturned by an arbiter, there was a lingering cloud over him.  People were convinced, myself included, he was guilty of “juicing” and had gotten away with the crime.

Braun’s own words at the press conference following his acquittal were, “We were able to get through this because I am innocent and the truth is on our side.”  It took me some time to come to terms with the state of the American morality last week after all these revelations came to light.  In the presence of the media with microphones and cameras rolling, Ryan Braun stood before those reporters and the American people, particularly the baseball fans of this country and lied.  It was not a lie of ignorance that we all make from time to time (i.e. “I believe his name is George.  Oh, it is Glenn, my mistake.”).  It was a premeditated, scripted lie.

Appearances on a Sean Bean meme spell disaster.  You career has the same chance of survival as Bean's character does in any movie.

Appearances on a Sean Bean meme spell disaster. Your career has the same chance of survival as Bean’s characters do in any movie.

At the time, there was merely speculation.  After the infamous press conference, one reporter put it succinctly, “He wasn’t exonerated. He was acquitted. There’s a difference.”

Fast forward a year and a half.  The tune has changed, but there is still this lingering cloud of dishonesty that hangs over Ryan Braun and MLB in general.  The PED issue is not dead in MLB and is perhaps taking on a new life with a current list of active players linked to Tony Bosch and his Biogenesis clinic.  A bigger name and contract than Braun’s is at the top of everyone’s list in Alex Rodriguez, who has admitted to using PEDs in the past, but appears poised to fight the new accusations of impropriety.

After the 65-game suspension was announced, Braun came forward with another statement.  To me, it was no more contrite than his previous comments on the matter.  He said, “As I have acknowledged in the past, I am not perfect.  I realize NOW that I have made some mistakes.  I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions” (emphasis mine).  I have a few problems with this “apology” from Braun.

First, Braun’s acknowledgement of his imperfection is irrelevant.  He was not coming across as a saint to anyone.  He was acquitted on a technicality from a previous suspension.  While this feat is nothing short of miraculous legal maneuvering, it did nothing to endear Braun or his camp to the general public.  I would dare say, outside of the Milwaukee fan base, Braun became an enemy to the state of baseball.  Recognizing our imperfection is a good thing when it is done correctly and in the proper perspective of God’s Word (Rom. 3:10, 23).  Braun’s admission read and sounded like an arrogant deflection of the real issue.  This view is only supported by the eventual revelation of his PED use.

Secondly, if I am to take Braun’s words at face value, he only came to the conclusion that his actions were wrong after being caught.  There is nothing apologetic about such a statement.  It implies that Braun’s previous, premeditated lying was done with a clear conscience.  Only after exposure did Braun come to the conclusion that perhaps he was wrong!  In essence, Braun is not apologizing for the multitude of lies and subterfuge he used to escape detection and sanction previously.  No.  He is apologizing that his deception and legal maneuvering backed him into a corner from which he could not escape.  If an undetectable PED substance existed, I am confident Braun would use it without remorse.

And last of all, the interesting aspect of consequences is they come whether we accept them or not.  Braun’s willingness “accept” the consequences of his actions further solidifies his perceived arrogance in the face of this reputation-staining ordeal.  MLB sets a dangerous precedent on the cusp of the Biogenesis controversy by negotiating the terms of Braun’s suspension with him.  Plea deals are common occurrence in our judicial system; however, it does little to discourage future offenses, especially from morally blind players such as Braun.

The Executive Director of the MLB Player’s Union, Michael Weiner, praised Braun saying, “I am deeply gratified to see Ryan taking this bold step.”  What step has Braun taken that is worthy of praise.  He lied to baseball executives in 2011, lied to his organization and fan base in Milwaukee, made a mockery of the arbitration process by contesting his first suspension while knowing he was guilty, and in the process of that arbitration Braun and his lawyers sullied the reputation of the courier that collected his tainted sample.  It should also be noted that Weiner sat on the three person panel that overturned Braun’s previous suspension.

This issue has struck such a cord with me for a few reasons.  First, I am a true baseball fan.  I love the game in all of its various incarnations from Little League to Major League.  I have been a fan since childhood and feel as if I’m in a sporting limbo between late October when the season ends until the beginning of Spring Training in March.  Yes, I like other sports as well, but nothing fascinates me like baseball.

The first sign of Braun juicing was seen on this play in left field vs. the Blue Jays.  Braun was standing on first base when he jumped.

The first sign of Braun juicing was seen on this play in left field vs. the Blue Jays. Braun was standing on first base when he jumped.

Braun and all the other players have marred the game with their selfish antics.  I am not unsympathetic to those who come forward and confess their impropriety.  I even believe these men should eventually take their place in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  However, I am over the great deception from men such as Braun.  I pray he one day becomes truly penitent for his actions and becomes more than he appears to be now, which is an unapologetic cheater.

The second reason this is so troubling to me is that my son is at the age of imitation.  He likes to imitate everything that I do from the words I say to the actions I perform.  It is just a stage of life.  One of our favorite things to do is watch baseball together.  I can say it is difficult to watch the game with the deluge of questions coming my way, but I do get to see the wide-eyed wonder on my little boys face as he watches these professional athletes play baseball.

These anti-PED policies are not in place to protect the professional athletes.  They are in place to protect the teenagers and young men coming up through the various systems.  When PEDs were previously free to use, though still secret from the majority of fans, their was rampant usage in all levels of the game.  I personally know middle school athletes that were using PEDs in the early 1990’s while I was in school.  The reasoning was for competitive advantage and that minuscule hope of hitting it big in a major sport.  The ugly truth of PEDs were virtually unknown to many of us during my high school days.  I never played organized sports seriously or even very long, so there was no allure for me to use PEDs.  However, I understood why others did.  Their hero, their idol used them and that was the only motivation needed.

I know how easily hero worship can develop in a young mind, especially one with an overpowering cocktail of my genes running through his little body and mind.  My son is not old enough to understand any of the details surrounding this case and I am confident he knows nothing about it.  But, what do you say when your child does understand?  How do you prepare your children for disappointment that will surely come as they look up to these so-called heroes?

I cannot protect my children from every evil in this world, but I can prepare them to deal with it as Scripture commands.  One of the greatest lessons we try to teach our children is honesty.  The truth does hurt sometimes, but it is always, without exception, the best policy.  Merely being honest for honesty’s sake would be difficult, and I do not believer virtue for only virtue’s sake is biblical.  We teach honesty because God is truth (Deu. 32:4) and His law is truth (Psa. 117:2).  Bound within the Godhead is absolute truth and when we strive for truth we are striving to bear the image from which we were created–God.

Superstars will rise and fall in the world of Major League Baseball.  Our era will no doubt see the rise of stars faster, stronger, better equipped, and more thoroughly trained than any of their predecessors.  Long-standing records will be toppled and previously unheard of stats will be recorded for future generations.  In the end, the records and statistics are nothing more than numbers.  Sure, they lead us down memory lane and bring smile to our face as we remember the legendary player or an unforgettable game.  Yet, what are numbers against the backdrop of eternity?


Paul’s teaching in the first half of the chapter dealt with marriage and divorce.  He closed out his discussion by addressing husbands and wives with unsaved spouses.  Moving on to a new thought, but with that context in mind, Paul shifts to address the idea of contentment.  There were some among the Corinthian believers who were not happy in their present state.  There were married members who wished to be single, single members who wished to be married and even slaves who longed to be freed.

This section is a pause in the overall thought of marriage and singleness, but one that addresses the root of the problem that had taken over the hearts o the believers in Corinth.  The underlying problem in Corinth was one of contentment.  People were simply unhappy with where they were in life, whether married or single, and seeking to change their circumstances.

The Corinthians failed to realize what many of us today fail to realize – our circumstances are not as important as our obedience to God.  The priority of life must be living a life of faith that trust completely in Almighty God and is obedient to His Will in all things.  Paul even tells Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (1 Tim. 6:6).  So join this morning as we examine this passage and struggle with the idea of contentment and the struggle each of us must endure to live contented lives.

I.        Teachings Concerning Our Enjoyment in the Christian Life (v. 17)

A.       Individual Application—“But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk.”

1.        Priority of Application—“But as God”—This section is the application portion of what Paul has been previously teaching as I have mentioned.  Paul can teach whole Scripture, but unless there is an application of those teachings it means very little.

Pastors can preach the truth of the Gospel and the Christian life, but unless you make it a priority to live this truth when you leave church this afternoon it accomplishes nothing.  The amazement of pastors and Christian leaders, and I speak from a decade of experience, is not that sinners do not come to church or even the various acts that sinners commit.  No, the shock comes from professed Christians who darken the doors of churches yet never change anything in their lives.

2.        Providence of Assignment—“God hath distributed” and “as the Lord hath called”—You are not in a position in your life that God has not allowed to come.  If you are in the face of trial, God has allowed it to come to you for a purpose.  In the midst of trials, God is seeking to prepare you for what lies ahead. It may be a more difficult task or it may be as a counselor to one who will be facing a similar trial.  God has a plan for your life and your priority should be discovering that plan and preparing for it each and every day.

3.        Particulars of Appointment—“as the Lord hath called, so let him walk”— This is a very important lesson for every one of us to remember.  Do not despise how God called you and when God called you.  My wife and I have very different testimonies and ways in which we came to know the Lord.  She was raised in a Christian home and came to know God at a very early age.  Many of the temptations and sins that I struggled with before becoming a Christian, my wife has never known.  Why did God place me where he placed me and why did He put my wife in her situation?  I do not know the answer to that question, but I do know now that I am a follower of Jesus Christ my command is clear—be like Jesus.

God called me early in life from a Christian home—be like Jesus.  God called me from a life of horrible sin—be like Jesus.  I came to know Christ at a very late age—be like Jesus.  However you came to know Christ, the command is still the same—be like Jesus.

B.        Universal Application—“And ordain I in all churches.”—Paul is not giving an isolated teaching.  He is declaring the apostle’s doctrine, therefore the Lord’s doctrine to Corinth.  This was the expectation in every church that he Apostle Paul established.  This is the expectation of every Bible-following church in existence today.

II.       Teaching Concerning Our Ethnicity in the Christian Life (vv. 18-20)

A.       Our State at Salvation (v. 18)—“Is any man called being circumcised?  Let him not become uncircumcised.  Is any called in uncircumcision?  Let him not be circumcised.”—People have a tendency to focus upon the outward, even when we know the reality of the spiritual life is on the inside.  Paul’s charge here is that it does not matter if you are a Jew or a Gentile because those outward signs mean nothing in comparison to true conversion.

B.        Our Command to Sanctification (v. 19)—“Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.”—This is where the rubber meets the road in this particular discussion.  Circumcision, that most sacred rite of the Jews, means nothing in the great spiritual reality of Christianity.

What is Paul truly saying here?  Was every circumcised Jew a true follower of God?  The answer is no.  Is every one that is baptized a true Christian?  The answer is no.  If these outward signs are not an indicator, how can we separate the false professors from the true possessors of the Holy Spirit. Luckily, Paul gives us the answer by saying one who keeps the commandments of God is the true follower.

It did not matter if one was Jew or Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, male or female, black or white, etc.  None of these things mattered.  All that matters is are you following the commandments of God?  Have you believed on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ?  Have you repented of your sins to God and accepted His gift of eternal life through His Son?  Are you living a life

C.       Our Calling to Vocation (v. 20)—“Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.”—If God called you to dig ditches, be the best ditch digger you can be for the glory of Christ.  Did He call you to be a supervisor, CEO?  Be the best that you can be for the cause of Christ.

What this is NOT is a statement supporting a caste system such as some religions follow.  Paul even says, if you can improve your condition and situation by all means do so, but do if you cannot, be content with where you are and serve the Lord.

III.      Teachings Concerning Our Economics in the Christian Life (vv. 21-24)

A.       Reaction to Our Economy—“Art thou called being a servant?  Care not for it:  but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather.”—The gospel is the medicine we need to make it through situations that are less than ideal.  We cannot relate to the concept of slavery in our present day United States, but it was a reality for many nearly 150 years ago and is still a reality for some around the world.

Slavery, lower class, poor, down-trodden, etc.  It does not matter what categories we use because the message of Scripture is still the same.  Our reaction in the face of such things should be obedience to Christ.  Wherever you find yourself, obey Christ.  But some will say, “Pastor, my situation isn’t the best.”  You need to obey Christ.  “Pastor, you do not know what hardships I have in my life.”  True, but you are still to obey Christ.  Our circumstances should not determine our contentment.

I know this flies in the face of what the world teaches you because worldly wisdom says your circumstances determine your happiness.  It says you cannot be poor and content.  You cannot face tragedy and have joy.  If you do not know Jesus Christ, you are correct, there is no contentment in poverty or trials, but neither will you find it in riches or success.

Sinner, you are never going to be content outside of Christ.  You will never have enough material and money.  You will never have an inherent joy of knowing your sins are forgiven and you can stand justified before the Great Judge in the last days.  Saints, your reaction to your present state is a very telling fruit of your Christian life.

B.       Reality of Our Economy—“For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman:  likewise also he that is called being free, is Christ’s servant.”— If the gospel is the dose of medicine one needs to perform menial jobs and endure bad situations, then the gospel is also the antidote needed to combat pride in highly desired jobs.  It sounds like a paradox, but Christ frees the slave and enslaves the free.  Simply put, the ground is level a the foot of the Cross.  There is neither bond nor free, male or female, Jew or Gentile.  There is only sinners saved by the wonderful grace of God.

C.       Rate of Our Economy—“Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”—Salvation is free, but it is not without cost.  A farm boy ran home one day to his father and exclaimed, “Daddy, they gave us free milk at school!”  His father patted him on the head and reminded him, “Someone had to milk the cow.”  Salvation did not cost us anything, but there is still a value attached to it.  Paul states it both positively and negatively in this verse.

1.       Bought with a Price – This statement takes the Corinthians mind back to the Cross of Jesus Christ.  Salvation is free to the world, but costly to Christ.  He gave Himself for the Church and it is through His death, burial, and resurrection that we can gather today in the power of the Spirit.

2.       Be not ye the servants of men—This is a spiritual charge for the Corinthians not to be under the subjection.  MacArthur says Paul is warning us against becoming slaves to the ways of the man, the world, and the flesh.

John MacArthur—“That is the slavery into which many of the Corinthian believers had fallen, the slavery that caused their divisions and strife and their immaturity and immorality. . . God allows us to be where we are and to stay where we are for a purpose. Conversion is not the signal for a person to leave his social condition, his marriage or his singleness, his human master, or his other circumstances. We are to leave sin and anything that encourages sin; but otherwise we are to stay where we are until God moves us.”

D.     Rejoinder to Our Economy—“Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God.”—This final phrase is a reminder that Paul has given twice before.  If God will move you, trust in Him and move.  However, if God has called you to stay, be content where He has placed you and seek to serve God to the best of your ability.