Tuesday, June 23, 2009

That's Just Jesus Being Jesus

Today Manny Ramirez will begin a 'rehab' assignment with the Albuquerque Isotopes (I miss the Dukes, but love the Simpsons, so I'm conflicted) after serving a 50 game suspension for violating Major League Baseball's Steroid policy. For some reason, ESPN is going to give us each of his at-bats. As far as I know, this is the first time ESPN has had such media coverage of a rehab stint. But you know, it's just Manny being Manny.

That's a quote, from him speaking in third person, in response to criticism of his play with the Boston Red Sox. If you don't follow baseball as religiously as I do, I'll give you the quick summary. Manny Ramirez reported late for Spring Training and loafed for half a season in an effort to force a trade from the Red Sox last year. The Dodgers were the only takers. Even after he lead the Dodgers in a surge to the playoffs and a first round sweep of the Cubs (weep), the Dodgers were reluctant to re-sign him for this season. Contract negotiations dragged through Spring Training before being resolved and Manny played almost a month before being suspended for using Performance Enhancing Drugs. The other day I was in a local Wal-Mart and saw on many clothes racks t-shirts with the saying 'Manny's Back!'. Everybody loves him, even though everybody hates him.

But that's just Manny being Manny. It goes to show that you are what you do. At work, someone could say of me, "that's just Frank being Frank." At home my wife could say the same thing. The question is though, is the "Frank being Frank" at work the same Frank as home? Is Manny being Manny the same Manny all the time? In both cases, it should be.

One of my favorite Proverbs is Proverbs 12:17 which reads, "A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies." It's so simple it took a commentary to help me figure out what it means. It simply means our character is reflected by what we do. So Manny Ramirez is a cheater not just by baseball policy, but also in character (as evidenced by his departure from the Red Sox). So when I lose my temper at home, or slack off at work, that's my character. And those parts of my character are in need of repentance. We should forgive Manny for being Manny, but we should not accept Manny for being Manny. Baseball fans are willing to forgive (see Jason Giambi) but ESPN wants to force us to accept. I'm sorry, but acceptance won't change until the character changes.

"Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers." (1 Timothy 4:16) In other words, don't say you're something you're not. Don't call yourself a Christian and not act like it. If you're truthful, you will be honest. And if you're Manny, you'll be Manny. I hope by the end of my life someone will say of me "that's just Frank being Jesus."

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