I remember 40 years ago watching a prominent TV evangelist publicly confess to his moral sins. What a shock! Nowadays it’s common. Few seem to care; in fact, it seems to be expected, as if it’s just a matter of time until a leader falls into sin. But every Christian leader or church member’s scandal brings a reproach to the name of Christ.
I watched a series of videos recently by a great man of God, Derek Prince. In his own voice and words, he told his life story, describing the supernatural interventions of God and the huge impact his life had on the world. He went where he believed God was sending him. He did what he believed God was telling him to do. He impacted multitudes worldwide with never a hint of wrongdoing or reproach to the name of the Lord.
Derek Prince’s books have always been some of my favourites. As I reflected on his life, I realized what a blessing and legacy for all of us in Christian leadership that he lived his life very publicly without any scandals attached to his life or ministry.
We can’t blame the devil and his demons for the fall of Christian leaders. Yes, they are out to trip up believers and especially leaders, but in most cases the scandals are the result of not following simple Biblical truth regarding proper Christian behaviour. The Devil cannot make a Jesus-follower do anything he or she doesn’t want to do.
So sad, so destructive, so offensive to the world and the church. I’ve witnessed to pre-Christians in my travels over the decades. What a shame when they respond, “What about that preacher?…All Christians are hypocrites…I have a fellow worker who claims to be a Christian and they are worse than I am…”
This needs our attention. We need to make some decisions today to live a scandal-free life or we may end up on the garbage heap of the disgraced, bringing reproach to a Holy God and a Saviour who was “without reproach.”
Do the following and you will live scandal free.
1. Live a life of solid Biblical principles
This means you learn and follow right and wrong as taught in Scripture. Lying is always wrong, no matter the cause. Exaggeration and misrepresentation are always wrong. Set moral principles and don’t use your Christian influence to make money or take advantage of others, ever! Predetermine how you will behave sexually, based on Biblical truth. Choose never to put yourself in a situation where what you are doing appears to be evil or wrong. Choose to never compromise on matters of morality, finances or power. Choose to live a holy life and serve God, humbly and sincerely.
2. Live a purposeful life
Ralph Waldo Emerson said “The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”
That’s a good purpose, but God’s purpose takes that one step further. We’re told to “seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” There are two things there – the kingdom, and God’s righteousness. Every action has a reaction and a consequence. Give yourself time and everyone will see what you seek – by the daily choices you make and the life you life. It’s impossible to hide the purpose for which we live.
3. Live a present life
When God’s principles are postponed or ignored, evil takes root and grows. I once bought a house with an overgrown hedge that had been neglected for years. The root system was even more difficult to remove than the branches. If we don’t take today’s living seriously, we condemn ourselves to be overtaken by evil tomorrow. Roots are difficult to remove. “Some day” never comes. Abraham Lincoln said, “You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” I might add that you cannot escape consequences of behaviour by evading it today.
Pay attention to today. Never dismiss today’s wrongs by saying, “Some day I’ll fix that or make that right.” If you skip over today’s sins, you set a course that is not easily recovered.
Conclusion: I love the Apostle Paul’s summary of life: “I have fought a good fight. I have finished my course and I have a crown waiting for me.” That should be a testimony for each of us. The day Paul met Jesus, he began that fight. He was able to say that from Day 1, he had lived for Jesus with his whole heart. He fought against his flesh and his need for deliverance from sin till the end.
You can live a scandal free life. It starts today. If you are a believer, I’m challenging you to “fight the good fight” and finish your course well so that you receive the crown God has promised you.