Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Lesson from Steve Harvey

OK, so it's December 22, 2015 and it's been two days since the Miss Universe Pageant.  That's two days of news media and social media taking shots at Pageant host Steve Harvey for his undeniable gaffe.  If you've been on a media fast or simply out of touch because of the holiday rush, this is how it played out.   There were two contestants left.  Miss Colombia and Miss Philippines were the top two of the five finalists.  Harvey had carefully read the identities starting with fifth runner-up.  Miss USA was third, by the way.  With only two names remaining, the standard operating procedure is to announce the winner (Miss Universe) since the remaining candidate would then be first runner-up. Unfortunately, Harvey continued to read down the list and read the first runner-up, Miss Columbia, BUT proclaimed her to be the new Miss Universe.  Yes, it was a snafu of biblical proportions. Internationally televised with millions of viewers including those from the Philippines and Colombia.  

Steve Harvey had blown it and he knew it.  So he did one of the most honorable and painful things I have ever seen.  He acknowledged his mistake, took full responsibility, and apologized.  Yes, it's true that his actions did not remove the embarrassment Miss Colombia must have felt.  It didn't assuage the anger that the people of Colombia felt.  But it was quick, direct, heartfelt, and courageous.  I have liked Steve Harvey for a while, but on Sunday, my respect level for him shot way up.

For years we have been living in a culture where accepting responsibility is the exception more than the rule.  When things go wrong, when mistakes are made, we often look for scapegoats in order to escape responsibility.  It's nothing new.  In fact, it started in the Garden of Eden.  If you check out Genesis 3, you'll find that when God confronted Adam about his eating of the Tree of Knowledge, Adam's quick response was to blame God.  "It was the woman YOU gave me who gave me the fruit . . ." (v. 10  NLT  Caps emphasis mine)   Let's get this straight.  Adam and Eve sin and bring sin and death into the world (Romans 5:12).  When confronted about their wrongdoing, Adam blames God and the woman and Eve blames the serpent (vv. 13-14).  It was the beginning of denial, the unwillingness to take responsibility for our sins, mistakes, and failures.  

Blaming others is easy.  Accepting responsibility and consequences takes courage.  Blaming others is childish.  Taking responsibility for our words, actions, and failures is a sign of maturity.  Steve Harvey could have blamed the designer of the card or the lighting or the pressure of the moment.  Instead, he showed the world the card and owned his mistake.  

And that is exactly what we must do IF we want to have a personal and intimate relationship with God.  We cannot blame others for our sins, our selfishness, or our character flaws.  We must own them, take responsibility for them, and confess them to a holy God.  The word confess literally means "to say the same thing."  When we confess, we take responsibility by saying the very things that God already knows to be true.  But John the Apostle tells us in I John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, we can depend upon Him to forgive our sins and cleanse us from every unrighteousness."  The "Him" John refers to here is Jesus (see I John 1:7)

This is WHY Jesus came.  God actually took responsibility for a creation that had become mired in sin, selfishness, and self-destruction.  No animal sacrifice or religious ritual could remove the stain of sin from the crown of His creation.  So He took responsibility and gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who places their faith in Him would not perish, but have eternal life. (John 3:16  NLT)   Now it's up to you!  God has done His part.  But He expects you to take responsibility for your sins, confess them, receive His forgiveness through the death and resurrection of Jesus, and be born into His family as a child of God (John 1:12).  

I might not agree with everything Steve Harvey says or does, but in this instance, He showed us the way.  Take responsibility for your life today, confess your sins to God, receive the free gift of eternal life by submitting to the Lordship of Jesus, and enjoy a new life in Jesus Christ.  

Father God, I know that I'm a sinner and I take responsibility for my own life.  I cannot change on my own, but I now know that this is why You sent Your one and only Son.  Thank You for sending Jesus.  Thank You for His death of the cross which makes forgiveness of my sins possible.  Thank You for raising Him from the dead which makes eternal life a reality for those who trust and obey Him.  Today, I become a follower of Jesus.  I place my faith in Him and pledge my obedience to Him.  

IF you prayed that prayer, find yourself a good, Bible-based church this Christmas weekend and go there.  Let those people know what you have done, then follow the example of Jesus by being baptized as His follower.  

And if you're in the Walterboro, SC area and don't have a church, please consider Nova Church.  We're at 4955 Jeffries Hwy. and our service begins at 10:30am.