“We must all suffer from one of two pains: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. The difference is discipline weighs ounces while regret weighs tons.” – Jim Rohn
Many people were disappointed and surprised to see yet another Christian leader, Jerry Falwell Jr. and his wife make the news because they acted like anything but Godly people. The head of one of the largest Christian universities in the world and his wife were exposed as hypocrites who have been privately mocking the holy God that we serve. These are just the latest in a long line of people used by God who have gone astray. The list goes back at least as far as King David. How can this happen? What were they thinking? What are we to think?
Should we just show mercy and not talk about what they’ve done? God uses the story of King David as an example of the consequences of sin. His failures are recorded for the whole world to see. There are right conclusions to draw from these examples; there are also wrong ones.
There are speed limits on nearly every road in the country. Sometimes we don’t understand them, and they may even seem arbitrary. Rational people realize that because drivers are often careless and reckless, limits must be imposed for everyone’s safety. Imagine that a child is a passenger in her parent’s car for years and nothing bad happens. One day while driving her father becomes insanely angry, ignores the speed limit, accelerates to a hundred miles an hour, fails to make a turn and the girl is seriously injured in a terrible traffic accident. As she thinks about all the pain and suffering she endures, she concludes that speed limits are no good. She will ignore them when it’s up to her because the accident proves they simply don’t work.
She fails to consider the accident is the result of ignoring the speed limit. Riding in the car was safe until then. This proves that speed limits are good and are there to protect us.
Imagine a child is growing up in a Christian home for years and nothing bad happens. One day her mother becomes overwhelmed, ignores God’s law about marriage, and leaves home to be with a man she met online. The child is trapped in the fallout of terrible divorce. As she contemplates all the pain and suffering she endures, she concludes that God’s laws are no good. She will ignore them when it’s up to her because her parents’ divorce proves they simply don’t work.
She fails to understand the adultery and divorce are the result of ignoring God’s laws. Life was good until then. This proves that His laws are good and are there to protect us.
The kind of conclusion we see in the second scenario is all-too-common – almost typical of people who have lived through the moral failings and hypocrisy of “Christian” parents or church leaders. You may know someone who has drawn this same conclusion.
“Christian” leaders regularly make news headlines because of their moral failures. This often catches us by surprise. In the church of Jesus Christ such a thing should not happen. But people in positions of power and money often fall into sin. We should be no more surprised by those high-profile failures than the fact that all Christians face temptation and those with little or no power and money are often exposed as hypocrites as well.
The news outlets, Christians, and everybody else seems quick to give opinions when things like this happen. I will let the Bible speak to this as it has much to say about sin and its consequences – in the lives of all believers and specifically in the lives of leaders. It also addresses the responsibilities of leadership.
The call to Repentance and Forgiveness
It is painful and disappointing when we face our sin and its consequences. But honest exposure and repentance is the only path to forgiveness and mercy. It should come as no surprise that people sin. The holiness of God is our standard and our goal. We should rejoice when sin is exposed.
God has not failed people. People have failed God and the consequences prove the rightness of God’s laws and His holiness.
God’s love, holiness, and mercy as well as His name will be exalted and glorified or dishonored and mocked by the actions of his people. As Pastor Alan has been warning us, we need to be ready for what comes next. The day of His return is closer today than it was yesterday. Keep watch; be ready. Keeping our relationship with Jesus fresh and vibrant by taking everything to Him, while pressing into knowing Him better is one of the best ways we can do just that.