What do Richard Nixon, Jimmy Sweigart, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Lindsey Lohin, John Edwards, Jim Baker, Eliot Spitzer, Gary Hart, and Bernard Madoff all have in common? Essentially they were all some of the "rich, famous and powerful" whose lack of integrity and moral compass brought them down in disgrace. Unfortunately, today there is another name to add to this sad list, Jim Tressel. Tressel was the coach of the Ohio State football team, one of the top football programs in the nation. Outwardly he seemed to have it all together. He was recognized throughout the country for his accomplishments and probably was headed to the football Hall of Fame. But something happened along the way. He condoned illegal actions by his players. He overlooked illegal perks which they were receiving. When it became public he gave them slaps on the wrists for their behavior and he publicly lied about his knowledge of what was happening. He worked hard to cover up these illegal actions. And the truth finally came out. He was forced to resign in disgrace, forfeiting a large salary and probably any change to ever again coach at a major college. Several things have come to my mind as I have watched this unfold. First I have been reminded of the story of Achan in the book of Joshua. He stole things from the city of Jericho and then hid them under his tent assuming that his sin would never be found. But God pointed out his sin before the entire nation and it cost him not only his own life but the lives of his family. In Numbers 32:23 we read "... ye have sinned against the LORD: and be sure your sin will find you out." I guess when you become rich and powerful you feel that you can do whatever you want. Who is going to stand in your way? How will know? And so with power comes the feeling that one is invincible and pride and lack of personal integrity lead to sin and one's eventual downfall. Proverbs 16:18 reminds us that "Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." Now my human nature would allow me to enjoy Tressel's fall. After all, as a Penn State fan it is easy to rejoice in the problems suffered by your mail rival. But we are reminded in I Corinthians 10:12 "Wherefor let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." And this warning isn't just for the "rich, famous and powerful", it is for each of us. Look at the sin around us - broken marriages, adultery, stealing from employers, deception, breaking the law, and on and on and on. These aren't the sins of just the rich and famous but also of the common folks like each of us. Temptation is just around the corner for each of us and we need to "take heed lest" we "fall". It is sad when folks like Jim Tressel falter and fall - what an instrument for good he could have been if he had been walking with the Lord. And the message for each of us is that we need to walk humbly, each minute of each day, with the Lord. Our desire should be to finish well, with integrity, the race of life.
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