Links Daily Devotional

Heartbeat of Righteousness

Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God. (Genesis 6:9, NIV)

How long did it take for your heartbeat to settle down from what you witnessed late Sunday—or for you giddy Aussies, Monday morning—from Augusta National? Somehow 2013 offered us the encore that 2012 deserved.

Forget the drained birdie putt Angel Cabrera made at sixteen to tie the lead.

Forget the achingly near miss of his putt on seventeen.

Forget the confident and elation-inducing roll of Adam Scott’s putt at the last.

Or Cabrera’s stunning answer from his viewing spot in the middle of the fairway.

Never mind that each finally missed a shot on the first hole of the playoff. We’ll forgive those nerves. We’ll forgive Cabrera’s chip for not falling.

Put aside the Argentine’s near miss—oh, another!—in the waning light at the tenth.

And even, if you can, let go of the memory of Scott’s winning tiebreaker, a putt he stroked exquisitely after caddie Steve Williams gave him the perfect read.

No, instead of all that, remember this: two men, in love with the game, in love with the moment, deeply appreciating each other and each other’s efforts. If professional sports are meant to be a show, these men gave us Shakespeare, Shaw, Sondheim, Spielberg. The Three Tenors never sounded so flat as when set against this backdrop.

What Adam Scott in the victory that won and Angel Cabrera in the victory that lost gave to us all on Sunday evening was our beloved game contested at its finest. The high-five with Williams and the patriotic holler by Scott, the overjoyed hug by senior and junior after the answered birdie, the thumbs up from Cabrera to Scott after the Aussie’s approach to what would be the final green, and the appreciative embrace between the two competitors to close the day—these all will stand well above any grand shot as what is right with golf. For all their great golf, Adam Scott and Angel Cabrera shined in their righteousness.

But wait. Does righteousness happen among us this way? Dare we profess righteousness apart from the righteousness of Christ?

Consider this: We cannot say that Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Daniel, or Cornelius were saved apart from Christ. We cannot say that their “blamelessness” in any way stands the test of holiness that must be passed before the judgment seat of Christ. Only the righteousness of Christ himself counts in that arena. But we can say that Word of God called these men and their acts “righteous.” They stood out among men in their righteousness, and for that God rewarded them.

Argue if you will that all righteousness, all good in humanity comes from God anyway. That only asserts the point—that we may find true righteousness almost anywhere, just as we did between two marvelous contenders on Sunday. Such righteousness stands out as beautiful against all that is wrong in the world (there is plenty of that). Yes, God must be in that beauty. So let us praise him as its witnesses.

Jeff Hopper

April 16, 2013

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