Updated: Dec 9, 2020
This is my two sons and I “enjoying” a game of golf!
I love to play golf. Although, in my younger days before I was a Christian, if people observed me while playing, they might not think so. They would have thought golf made me miserable. You see, golf was so important to me that when I didn’t do so well, I was quite unhappy. And I would voice my unhappiness with a complete array of choice words, the kind no mother would want her children to hear.
A typical occurrence for me on the golf course would have had me, after hitting an errant drive into an adjacent fairway, cursing and complaining all the way to my ball. I might have even thrown my club halfway across the course. It wasn’t a pretty sight…or sound.
I’m glad those days ended. They ended for me when I gave my heart to Christ. They truly did. After my surrender to Him, no activity, or event, or relationship, or job, was that important to me anymore.
In fact, soon after becoming a Christian, if I hit an errant drive (becoming a Christian didn’t improve my golf game); instead of ranting and cursing all the way to my ball, I would cry tears of joy. I recall saying many times as I chased a bad shot, with happy tears in my eyes, “Who cares about a bad shot on the golf course anyway. My sins are forgiven and I am on my way to heaven.” And since then, in addition to not cursing, I play golf with much greater emotional balance.
You see, God wants Himself to be the most important thing in our lives. When anything else takes first place, when things go wrong, we are in crisis. That’s why I cursed; because golf had captured the throne of my life. So when I did poorly my whole world was in disarray. My curses were an indication that my world was built on a faulty foundation, the foundation of golf. When my golf game was crumbling…I was crumbling.
But I am not the only one that curses on the golf course. I play golf with people all the time who practice creative usage of certain four letter words during a golf match. When they miss a putt, out comes a curse. If they hit a ball in the water, God’s name is taken in vain. If a ball goes out of bounds, the typical response is cussing like a sailor. And many would probably ask the same question I posed earlier; if golf is so much fun, why is everyone so miserable while they play it?
Now, not all of the cursing is rooted in discontent and misdirected purpose in life. Some cursing, mostly by men, comes from habitual stuff that men just always do. But over the years I have learned how to stop the cursing…all of it.
For many years I played golf even if I didn’t have friends to play with. The maximum group size is four players, and in busier regions like Southern California (where I used to live), courses like to see all the groups that play be complete foursomes. I would go to the course and be placed with a group of two or three guys that were shy of filling a foursome. Consequently, I would often play with people I didn’t know.
Most of the time the guys I was placed with were pretty rough with their language with cursing, jokes and stories they would tell on themselves. I never objected. I just listened and determined to be non-judgmental. I would recall…I was once a curser too. I consider it a mission field. However, usually around hole five, someone would ask me what I did for a living. As soon as I answered “minister,” amazingly, the rough language and jokes would stop. It was almost a miracle!
So, I advise people, “If you want those around you to stop cursing, tell them you are a minister.” It works every time. If you are a Christian you won’t be lying because Ephesians 4:12 tells us that we are all ministers even if we don’t have credentials.
I have always wondered…why do people respond that way? Is it because they feel guilty? Is it because they fear being preached at by some minister? Is it because of respect for the “cloth?”
I’ve since decided it could be all of these reasons. But most of all people know deep within their hearts that they shouldn’t curse or take God’s name in vain…even if they aren’t Christians. How do they know this? They know it because God’s laws are written on their hearts and the third one of the top ten has to do with cursing.
“…God’s law is written in their hearts, for their own conscience and thoughts either accuse them or tell them they are doing right.” Romans 2:15 NLT
“Dirty stories, foul talk, and coarse jokes—these are not for you. Instead, remind each other of God’s goodness, and be thankful.” Ephesians 5:4 LB
“Don’t use bad language. Say only what is good and helpful to those you are talking to and what will give them a blessing.” Ephesians 4:29 LB