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What Ron Washington teaches us about sin

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

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Former Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington resigned unexpectedly Sept. 5. (Michael Ainsworth/The Dallas Morning News)

“I was not true to my wife after 42 years.  I broke her trust.  I’m here today to own that, the mistake, and to apologize to her and to those I disappointed.  And those who have trusted in me and I let them down.”  With these words, the winningest manager in Texas Rangers history explained his sudden resignation on September 5.  Ron Washington’s press conference this afternoon gave no further details regarding his moral failure.

In 2006 Washington became manager of one of baseball’s least successful clubs, and led his team to two World Series appearances.  He spent 44 years in professional baseball as a player, coach and manager.  Widely regarded one of the most effective motivators in the game, he was beloved by his players and respected throughout the sport.

It is tragic that his resignation from the game he loves was the result of a failure that had nothing to do with the game.  He did not bet on baseball, or cheat against its rules and traditions.  He did not abuse his players or their fans.  His personal life, far from the glare of stadium lights and media attention, was his undoing.  A private sin has now become a very public failure.

This is the way of sin.  Temptation always assures us that we will get away with whatever we’re being tempted to do.  No one will know.  No one will get hurt.  But eventually everyone knows, and the people we most don’t want to hurt are the ones we hurt the most.

I’m praying today for Ron and Gerry Washington as they deal with this tragedy, asking God to redeem their pain by drawing them closer to himself and making their marriage new.  And I’m praying that Ron Washington’s example will serve to warn anyone who is considering “private” sin.  He said this afternoon, “I’m embarrassed more than I’ve ever been in my life.”  His pain today is your pain tomorrow.  

It will never be easier to refuse temptation than it is now.  Turn to the One who promises: “with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians 10:13).  You cannot defeat sin in your strength, but sin cannot defeat you in his.

This is the warning, and the assurance, of God.