by Tim Hall
Millions of avid fans followed Mark McGwire's historic
home run chase in 1998. The record he pursued was a
hallowed one: the single season home run record.
Roger Maris had broken Babe Ruth's mark when he hit 61
in 1961. Many felt that was a mark that would never be
Two players chased Maris' feat in 1998. Sammy Sosa and
McGwire leapfrogged over each other into the lead
throughout the season.
As McGwire stood on the threshold of setting a new
record, the nation held its collective breath. (Barry
Bonds would go on to break McGwire's record with 73
dingers in 2001.)
This past Monday, McGwire admitted what has been widely
thought for the past few years: He used performance
enhancing drugs during that part of his career. No,
they had not yet been banned by professional baseball,
but U.S. law made them illegal without a doctor's
"Wait," someone might interrupt, "McGwire didn't lie
about it." When he testified before a congressional
committee in March 2005, he refused to say anything
about the charge that he used banned substances. Other
players testified that they never took any of those
drugs, and some of them are now facing charges for
committing perjury. But not McGwire.
Is it not a lie when we live as if we're not doing
anything wrong, when we know we are? Does one have to
lie with his lips in order for it to be categorized as
Jesus had strong words for those whose lives don't
match their claims: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees,
hypocrites! For you devour widows' houses, and for a
pretense make long prayers. Therefore you will receive
greater condemnation" (Matthew 23:14, NKJV).
These leaders regarded themselves as the epitome of
religious fervor. But an inspection of their deeds
revealed glaring inconsistencies. Their mouths said all
the right things, but their actions didn't.
Paul was careful to maintain his integrity. He wrote
how he planned to transport the funds given for the
relief of those in Judea: "For we are taking pains to
do what is right, not only in the eyes of the Lord but
also in the eyes of men" (2 Corinthians 8:21, NIV).
Paul knew that people often deceive one another. No
one, though, can deceive God.
Here's the way to test our actions: "And whatever you
do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men,
knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward
of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ"
"I wish I had never touched steroids," McGwire said on
Monday. So do we, Mark. So do we.