Lately, it seems that hardly a day goes by that I’m not hearing about someone committing a “moral failure”, or past foolish and/or sinful words and actions come back to haunt Christian leaders. And, frankly, I’m getting sick of it to the point that my initial reaction often slips into something decidedly un-Christlike (a fact my wife graciously reminds me of whenever it happens).[1. As an aside, I loathe the term moral failure.]
While I have lots of opinions about the individual incidents that flood my Twitter feed, those aren’t what I want to share today, largely because it’s unnecessary, and to some degree, irrelevant. Instead, I want to share three actions that are necessary for all of us when these stories come up.
Pray. I’m as guilty of it as anyone, but it’s easy to look at someone else’s failure with disdain. But this is not only foolish, it is in itself sinful (for reasons that should be obvious). Rather than being disdainful, we should pray for those who have sinned and disqualified themselves, as well as all who are directly affected. And pray for our own hearts and attitudes that we be protected from self-righteousness.
Plead. Eric Geiger has wisely said, “Knowing that we are prone to failure, we need to beg God to create a clean heart within us.” His use of the word “beg” is important. While it may go too far to say that any of us is one bad choice away from ruining our ministries (in my experience, it’s a series of progressively escalating ones), we would do well to recognize that it is by God’s grace that we stand firm.
Pursue. The final action is one that, again, should be a no-brainer for us: to see to be people who can be called above reproach. Pursue Christ through His Word and prayer. Pursue true relationships and accountability within our local churches. Pursue those we’ve sinned against out of a desire to repent. Pursue the lost in mission. Pursue holiness in all we say and do as Christ’s ambassadors.