Links Daily Devotional

A Softening of the ‘Oughteries’

Now a Jew named Apollos, an Alexandrian by birth, an eloquent man, came to Ephesus; and he was mighty in the Scriptures. This man had been instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in spirit, he was speaking and teaching accurately the things concerning Jesus, being acquainted only with the baptism of John; and he began to speak out boldly in the synagogue. But when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. (Acts 18:24-26, NASB)

One of the wonderful—and occasionally irritating—things about golf is other golfers who want to help you with your game. Freely. Confidently. Publicly. And often inaccurately.

Granted, a golf swing is a complex motion comprised of many moving parts. It is very difficult for most players to know exactly what has happened in the 1.5 seconds from the time they start the club back to the time they hit the ball. So if you hit a shot that goes off in some unintended direction, the next sound after your own voice cursing may be instruction on what you did wrong or what you should do differently.

This very much mirrors life as a follower of Jesus when you are in the presence of other followers of Jesus. Trust me when I tell you, because I speak from personal experience, that there is no shortage of people who will tell you how you ought to live your life if you are going to call yourself a Christian. Sometimes these people pop up when you have actually made a mistake, but frequently they appear when they think you’ve made a mistake—such as uttering that “bad word” after a bad shot.

Back when I was young and knew everything worth knowing, I was sometimes one of them. Like the helpful golfers (yes, I’ve done that, too), I truly only wanted to be helpful. There was no “holier than thou” attitude on my part, I was simply convinced that I knew the way people should behave, and I wanted them do that. But in many cases I wasn’t helping at all. Sometimes I wasn’t even right.

Advancing age is a factor in what we call hardening of the arteries. But a great benefit of aging, at least for me, has been a softening of the “oughteries.” Rarely these days do I use the phrases “you ought” or “you ought not” do such-and-such. Why? To paraphrase one of my favorite philosophers, it is not that I have grown more intelligent as I have aged but, because of the years of experience, my capacity for understanding has deepened a little.

Priscilla and her husband Aquila displayed great understanding in their interaction with Apollos as seen in today’s passage. You may note that there are several positive things said about Apollos, and Priscilla and Aquila did not risk damaging his excellent qualities or reputation by correcting him in public. They simply took him aside and explained the way of God more accurately.

May Priscilla and Aquila be my models as I explain the ways of golf, and especially the ways of God. And may my explanations always lead to more accuracy.

Lewis Greer
August 7, 2014
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