What do you think when you hear the name Ryan Lochte? Liar, drinks too much, party boy . . . . It’s sad, for sure, since he’s one of America’s most decorated Olympians, one of our great sportsmen. He’s four times an Olympian and has won twelve medals for the U.S.A.
Justin Gatlin? Drugs cheat several times over. Many don’t think he should even have been allowed to compete in the Olympics.
Lance Armstrong? What a fake! Liar, cheat, cancer survivor, winner of the Tour de France multiple times, drugs, phony, bully . . . .
Anthony Weiner, President Bill Clinton, General David Petraeus, and John Edwards? Famous men, cheaters on their wives, disgraced . . . . All but Clinton lost their jobs as well as their reputations.
It doesn’t have to be a big mistake. It can be a “twisting of the facts,” as Ryan Lochte found out. There was a gun. The four friends were held at gunpoint. There was an exchange of money. The man with the gun was dressed like a policeman. Lochte still lied. He misrepresented the facts. And, sadly, the Brazil Olympics for Lochte will be about that stupid story and not his gold medal, won cleanly after four years of intensive training.
My family remembers my disasters:
- They remember the time I broke a whole carton of eggs on the floor—the whole dozen broken, in gooey slop!
- They remember the time I was riding a bike with hand brakes for the first time and didn’t know how to stop—and how it looked like slow motion when I went off the road and fell to the side.
- They remember when I couldn’t find my keys to open the suitcases at the airport, and I was transporting wooden eggs—which Agriculture Control thought were real. They also remember that I said I had no food. (I’d completely forgotten, as I packed weeks before—and I actually had olive oil, olives, and chocolate. I didn’t think of those things as food.) How completely embarrassing!
- My husband remembers my walking out of my shoe on a church platform as I went across to give my testimony.
People remember the dumb things you do. Those things make an impression. They don’t have to be necessarily wrong, but when you do something stupid, people notice.
I keep seeing signs, “Your past does not define you.” I agree up to a point. But, there are always consequences for wrong actions. And, one of those consequences is that people remember your wrongdoings much more than your good doings. They remember if you lied, cheated, were violent, drunk, or out of control. They paint you in their minds as a liar, cheat, violent person, drunk, or without self-control. In a way, you’ll forever be the impression you made.
So, what can you do if you already messed up? The secret is in putting the sin behind you, about not going back to that sin again, about true repentance. Do you remember what Jesus told the woman caught in adultery? He forgave her and said, Go, and sin no more (John 8:11b).
When we truly repent, the Lord blots out our sins. He doesn’t see them any more. (I wish we humans were more like Him!) Here are a few verses that will encourage your heart:
- Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more (Jeremiah 31:34b).
- To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David, when Nathan the prophet came unto him, after he had gone in to Bathsheba. Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities (Psalm 51:1, 9).
- As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us (Psalm 103:12).
- Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool (Isaiah 1:18).
What should Ryan Lochte have done?
- He should have behaved himself in the first place. He was representing his country.
- Since he did wrong, he should have admitted exactly what happened.
When we see that a person has truly turned from his sin, we should accept him. It doesn’t matter what he's done, we need to accept that he has been changed by the grace of God.
And, we ourselves should strive to live to the glory of God. For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's (1 Corinthians 6:20).