With recent news about other Christian leaders falling into moral failure, it is a good time to do two things. First, we ought to pray for these men and their families, who most directly experience the consequences of their actions. The second is to take heed, lest we fall (1 Cor. 10:12).
It is about this second point I write today. In pondering life these days, it has been said that virtually nothing is private and nothing is off the record. Any given text message, any conversation, any kind of behavior, could immediately be put on social media and made known to masses of people.
This scary thought should help us take heed. As Christians, though, we know that this has always been the case.
God sees our actions, thoughts and even motives. Moreover, our sins will be found out, either in the here and now or in eternity (1 Tim. 5:24). The YouTube phenomenon, where anyone could become a scoundrel overnight, simply underscores the reality.
There seems to be three points of faithfulness in which people tend to be vulnerable to a fall:
Jesus said, “By your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matt. 12:37). This has been seen many times over. People who were once highly thought of blurt out something inappropriate or wrong on social media or while speaking, and their fall is underway.
As Christians, we must be especially on guard about our words, knowing they hold tremendous power to build up or tear down. As I write, I especially feel the weight of this.
The televangelist scandals of yesteryear still haunt Christian witness today. As Russell Moore recently pointed out, some people even hear the word “evangelist” (a Bible word) and cannot help but think of a phony Christian fleecing people for money. God’s Word tells us that our treasure reveals where our hearts are.
Let’s pray God would make us faithful with our money, which has been so hard for so many. As someone employed in ministry, I feel the significant weight of this.
3. Sexual desire
In this pornographic age, we are facing an epidemic of lust and infidelity. Sexual sin, however, is something that has always been with every generation, every person.
As the #MeToo moment continues, there undoubtedly will be other leaders, even Christian leaders, who are accused and/or exposed of sexual sins. One sexual sin, in a single moment, can destroy an entire ministry career and, more importantly, the very witness of the church. As a married-with-children man, I feel the tremendous weight of this.
As I see more respected leaders fall in one of these key areas—words, money and sexual desire—I have to examine my own life. I can see that I myself have sinned and fallen woefully short in each of these areas at practically every stage of my life. I, too, recognize that I am one poor choice away from a real fall, and so are you.
At the same time, we need to remember that we serve a redeeming God who saves us from our sins. Jesus did not cast stones at the women caught in adultery in John 8, while others (including people committing the same sin) were ready to do so.
Jesus stands today ready to forgive each one of us our sins in these and other areas, if we will confess it to Him (1 John 1:9). And once do this, we must find a trusted accountability partner to help us walk with Him day by day, staying grounded in His Word.
In doing these and “taking heed lest we fall” into sin, we can go forward knowing even those who experience the hardest fall can rise up and walk, and in the words of Jesus, “go and sin no more.” Lord help us…