If you’re just trying NOT to do the wrong thing, you can miss doing the right thing.”
I’ve only had one in my entire life. I’ve been playing the game of golf for over 40 years, but I’ve only hit the perfect shot once.
The elusive hole-in-one. What every golfer dreams of. My father-in-law played the game for over 50 years and never had one. Most golfers never will. In fact, the odds are 12,500 to 1 that you won’t either. But on that August day in 2007, at Lake Guntersville State Park, on hole #14, I took an 8-iron from 150 yards away and knocked the ball in the hole. It was a beautiful shot really, high and just right of the hole. It took one hop, then spun left and disappeared. Thankfully my brother, Roger was there to witness it. (In the golf world, if someone doesn’t see you hit a hole-in-one, then you didn’t.) He was kind enough to shoot this picture for me. It was an amazing moment.
Even though I’ve only had one hole-in-one, I’ve witnessed several. Three in fact. By the same guy. And recently, this same friend, Tom Schreiner had his seventh hole in one. You heard me. Seventh.
How in the world does that happen? I mean, at 12,500 to 1 odds, how does one guy have seven aces? Well, part of it’s talent. He’s a scratch golfer. But there’s plenty of scratch golfers that never get a hole-in-one. Let me tell you what sets Tom apart from any other golfer I’ve ever played with, including me.
On every shot, he’s aiming to hit the ball in the hole. I’ll never forget the last hole-in-one I saw him make. We’re playing Nob North, a gorgeous golf course in North Georgia and we get to hole #12 on the backside. It’s playing about 167 yards long, over water, to a narrow green with trees to the left and a cavernous sand bunker to the right. It’s a nightmare for golfers like me. But he’s not thinking about the water, the trees, or the sand.
He’s thinking about the hole.
“I’m kind of in-between clubs.” he says. “I could hit a 7-iron or a 6-iron. But I can’t knock it in the hole with a 7-iron. So I’m gonna hit the 6.”
He then steps up with the 6-iron and proceeds to knock it in the hole.
(Tom with his lovely bride, Sandi, after winning a spot in the USGA Senior Amateur)
That’s the difference between me and Tom. Aim. He’s trying to hit the golf ball in the hole. I’m just trying not to hit it in the water! Or the trees. Or the sand. But more often than not, I still manage to hit it into trouble. I’m trying not to do the wrong thing, he’s trying to do the right thing.
Which brings me to a little teaching of Jesus. He sums up the entire Bible with this, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up all of the Bible” (Matthew 7:12) You may remember later he said all of the Law and Prophets were based on two commands, “Love God with everything and love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:35-40) But this teaching shows us what love looks like.
“Do for others what you want them to do for you.”
This is typically known as The Golden Rule. You may not know this, but it’s a principle found in the teaching of most of the world’s major religions. But with this exception: It’s most often given in the negative form, like this, “Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you.”
In other words, don’t do the wrong thing to someone else. The world can be a pretty bad place, so don’t make it worse. Don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t deceive, don’t have an affair, etc. Which is certainly good, I suppose. But is it enough?
Jesus calls us to aim for something greater, something higher. Not doing the wrong thing can be passive. But Jesus wants us to be active in our faith. To take initiative. It’s not enough to just not do the wrong thing. Jesus teaches us to go beyond that, and do the right thing. And he describes the right thing as doing for others exactly what we would want done in the same situation.
Think about the implications for your marriage, your business, your community, the world itself.
- It’s not enough to just not criticize our spouse. We should express appreciation.
- It’s not enough to just not steal from someone. We should be generous.
- It’s not enough to just not oppress the poor. We should actually help.
- It’s not enough to just not be racist. We should build relationships and create opportunities.
- It’s not enough to just not make the world worse. We should make it a better place!
You get the picture.
Here’s a sobering thought. It’s possible in our efforts to avoid the sin of commission (doing the wrong thing) we end up sinning by omission (not doing the right thing.)
So don’t be satisfied with the successful avoidance of sin. Aim higher. Think about what you would want in every situation. And do that.