I'm convinced that if God doesn't continue to show overwhelming mercy and grace in my life AND if I get sloppy in my interaction with the opposite sex I'm on a collision course with moral failure.
Just to be clear, this blog isn't in response to current relationships and inevitable moral failure for me, but stories I've heard that have gotten my attention.
Over the last 10 days I have had no less than 5 conversations with men who have fallen morally. A dad, a youth pastor, a ministry leader, a pastor, a father were all included in my conversations.
Sure, we've all heard stories of people who have compromised and given in to sexual temptation but for some reason the potential of moral failure has been screaming at me at the top of it's lungs.
My response has surprised me a little. A younger me might have heard those stories and thought, "there's no way I would do something like that". Or "how dare they..."
Here are some thoughts I've had as I've heard these stories and prayed for those in the wake of sin's devastation...
I'm so, so sorry...
I'm sorry for families. I'm sorry for churches. I'm sorry for the name of Jesus. I'm sorry for the men who fell. I'm so sorry. There is a wake of devastation.
Sadness overwhelms me when I think about all the people affected. There's no doubt our enemy has come to "kill, steal and destroy."
In the middle of temptation it's so difficult to see the big picture. If only we could see what our actions might do to those around us. If only we could see what our actions might do to the name of Jesus and the purity of his church.
If not for the grace of God....
I'm no better than any of these men.
God has been so gracious to protect me from scandalous public sin in my life. Of course there is the constant struggle of "hidden" sins. I'm a life long struggler with pride, arrogance and lust. As I think about my own hidden (well, mostly hidden) struggles it makes me keenly aware that I have the potential of any sin.
Also, it's important to remember that public moral failure didn't begin in public but in private.
Why has God granted me grace in these areas and not these other men? I have no idea.
Here's the reality. If I don't give special attention to my own heart and struggles, I'm on a collision course with moral failure. Doing nothing is not an option.
If you are a lover of Jesus and especially if you are a ministry leader, you must give constant attention to your soul. To do the work of the ministry without giving attention to the health of our own souls is a recipe for ministry failure. To give people Jesus without meeting with him ourselves is always a temptation.
We are so busy with so many needs that must be met but how can we give that which we don't possess?
We must order our schedules to make time with Jesus the greatest priority.
For years I have had good accountability in my life. Currently I meet with a couple of guys who have the freedom and expectation of asking me the tough questions. It's effective most the time but it's easy to get sloppy.
The flesh has an incredible desire to protect it's self and stay hidden. Sometimes I can share just enough to get me off the hook. I, we, must have real focused accountability in our lives.
For more on accountability see...
The gospel is good enough and powerful enough to bring redemption and restoration to these men and yes, to me. Although the stories are sad, within some of what I've heard there has been full restoration and healing. Of course there is a scar, but the work of Jesus brings strength, perhaps even greater strength than before.
Even as I write about my "future moral failure" I'm reminded of a moral failure I had while in college. While serving as a youth intern my girlfriend, now wife, became pregnant. God's grace is sufficient and that incident is a constant reminder of his goodness and grace.
After we became married and had our first son I knew there was no way I could fulfill my calling to youth ministry but God had other plans for me.
Would I choose to relive the pain my sin caused during that time? Absolutely not. But God is a God who restores and his gentle love and patience is so evident in my life.
So, by God's grace, may we be self controlled and alert. May we give attention to our soul.
The name of Jesus is at stake.
We must do whatever it takes.