It is not necessary to recount the sins of Tiger Woods. That has already been done in ample supply. We all know what Tiger did … and with whom … and almost how many times. As he said himself, the temptations were easily available to him because of his fame and fortune, and he took “advantage” of them. The question is, of course, who took advantage of whom?

Nor do we need to jump on the anti-Toyota bandwagon because of their recent woes. I could be accused of a conflict of interest since I drive one of their vehicles. But it’s a 2000 model with almost 124,000 miles on it, and as far as I know was manufactured long before the problems with the accelerator, floor mats and brakes as well as lack-of-forthrightness issues that have come before public scrutiny of late.

But hold on to your hat, lean in closely and listen carefully. This is my take on the matter: Tiger and Toyota have the exact same problem, which would have been more ironic had it been Toyota, instead of Buick, that dumped Tiger as a spokesman. This occurred, of course, even before his peccadilloes came to light. Their problem is – Are you ready? – idolatry. Both made the bottom line their god, and in the process innocent people got hurt. In Tiger’s case, of course, it was his family. When it comes to Toyota, the damage is more obvious.

Tiger didn’t need a bigger bottom line, at least one that represents dollars, for he literally has money to burn. But his bulging wallet, not to mention his notoriety, gave him access to places and people he did not need to encounter. Toyota disregarded the welfare of its clients because of its desire to produce what they could pass off as quality vehicles and, as much as possible, do it on the cheap. In both cases, priorities were skewed, constituencies were disregarded and both discovered the truth in the maxim that says, “Be sure your sins will find you out.”

And both have now issued public “apologies.” I put “apologies” in quotation marks because cynics will suggest they weren’t sincere. Whether that is true must be left up to Tiger and Mr. Toyoda, the chairman of Toyota. Tiger’s body language was wooden, as if he would have rather been anywhere else but standing in front of that camera with a microphone in his face. And I’m sure that was the case. However, he still called the shots, limiting his audience to selected supporters and not taking questions.

Mr. Toyoda was very emotional in his public outing, but we are told that it is a part of Japanese custom for one in his unfortunate position to exhibit that kind of behavior. In other words, it is expected in order not to lose any more face than is already the case.

What are we to make of this? It’s simple. We must learn from it. To focus on the one true God keeps our vision cast beyond ourselves and our immediate needs. And it helps us when it comes to our worship in making sure that the God to whom we give our allegiance has nothing to do with instant desires. In the meantime, let’s hope that both Tiger and Toyota can find some redemption. After all, we do believe in grace, do we not?

Randy Hyde is pastor of Pulaski Heights Baptist Church in Little Rock, Ark.

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