So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall! 1 Cor. 10:12
Your telephone rings or you meet someone in the parking lot of the church and you are asked, “Have you heard about (and the name of a popular Christian leader is mentioned)? Your friend begins to relate a sordid story of moral failure and your immediate reaction is, “I never thought it could happen to that person! I just saw a feature on his leadership and accomplishments in a leading periodical. I just can’t believe he would do that!” You are shocked and stunned. Yes, you know that the best of men are but men at their best, but you always felt that this person was a cut above the moral failures that have besmirched the cause of Christ and brought shame and reproach to a broken-hearted wife and family.
Is any person above the terrible disgrace of moral failure? Paul’s strong words of exhortation are just as needed today as when he directed them to the Corinthians long ago: “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall’ (1 Cor. 10:12, NKJV). One of the dark lessons that is to be learned is that everyone is only as strong as his ability to withstand the fiery darts of the evil one. It should be crystal clear that Satan delights in tripping God’s children, and the higher the profile, the greater damage he inflicts—not only to the person and his family—but to the entire cause of Christ. “Aha!” people say, “Look at him; he’s no different from anyone else—bald-faced hypocrite!”
Never forget that the world remembers its own for their greatest accomplishment but they remember God’s own for their greatest failure. I will never forget being with a group of young people in the interior of China when I was asked, “What about…” and the name of a popular evangelist was mentioned. I was shocked that they even knew his name. “How did you hear about this?” I asked, and they quickly responded, “Oh, we read Time magazine.”
Gossip travels at the speed of light, I think. And Satan, of course, operates on the theory that if he can bring down a high profile figure—like the leader of an army riding on a white horse in front of the troops going into battle—he can also discourage a vast number of followers who reason, “Hey, if this person, a spiritual giant, can bite the dust, what makes me think that I’m strong enough to resist?”
Of course, men are human. David discovered that and lived to regret his moral failure. Samson was strong but human, and every person who drops his guard is vulnerable, regardless of how many he preaches or teaches.
When one pastor heard the news of a fellow Christian’s leader’s moral failure, he called his wife and said, “Debbie, open my phone bills, check my credit card statements, expect to know where I am at any time, don’t knock when you’re coming to my office, I need to be accountable!” Then he added, “Living in the light may make your life a little more uncomfortable, a lot less private, but the chances of a major meltdown or a life of secrecy that will bring more pain than you could ever imagine just got tossed out the window! Hate evil, love God and make sure your spouse has your computer password! Declare as one pastor did, ‘As for me and my mouse, [computer mouse, that is] we will serve the Lord.’”
“The devil made me do it!” rationalize some, but the onus of responsibility rests upon every person. Adam wasn’t excused when he blamed Eve for his problem, saying, “She took the fruit and made me eat it.” Each one is responsible and accountable, but we must learn to resist moral failure because we can.
Resource reading: 1 Corinthians 10:12-24