by David Sisler
The first reaction was, "That pious, self-righteous, holier-than-thou hypocrite."
The second reaction was, "I remember the people that he spoke against. I can hardly wait to tell them. They will be glad to hear."
The third reaction was, "How awful for his family."
The fourth reaction was, "How damaging for his church."
The fifth reaction was, "There, but for the grace of God, go I."
Another minister has fallen. The sin was grievous, but then in the eyes of God, they are all grievous, each one, every one, demanding the death of His only Son, Jesus of Nazareth. Only His blood can wash us clean.
But a minister! How could he?
The same way the rest of us do. One step at a time. A little carelessness here, a little carelessness there, and before you know it, you are trapped. Sometimes you struggle against the evil forces which tempt you and drag you down, sometimes you see no point in resisting any longer and just give up. And let's face it, sometimes, sin is just plain fun. That's what the Bible says. It talks about "the pleasures of sin." It also says they last only for a season.
For a season?
Early in the summer, the leaves on the trees are healthy and alive. Their colors are rich. Their shades of green spread a lush, verdant rainbow around each neighborhood and along every highway in town.
Then the weather starts getting colder. Oh, not every day, and not all at once to be sure. But gradually. The maples are among the first to change colors — rich reds, vibrant yellows. There is a shade of yellow which translates, in Spanish, as "Here I am, Yellow!" Some of those colors appear. The oaks are among the last to change, but when they turn they change almost overnight from green to golden (if the weather is right) to brown (if the weather is not right).
And then they all fall. And are swept into piles and burnt. Or dropped into compost heaps where they rot.
The luster of summer is gone. The color of autumn is past. The barrenness of winter is at hand.
Spiritually, that is what happens to almost everyone who falls away from God. It probably happened to the minister. It happened once to me.
At first, the suggestion from the Enemy is so ridiculous that it is dismissed with ease. "I'll never do something like that." Then a different approach, then another, and another, until the right formula is discovered. Now, what was once repulsive has the flavor of "maybe that would not be so bad." You are shocked that you could even consider such an action, such a course of conduct. You recoil from it, but later you go back to it, and just like the old vaudeville routine, it is step by step, inch by inch, until the current of corruption catches you and carries you away.
You knew better. One time never hurt anyone, you rationalize. It won't trap me, you delude yourself. I can walk away from this anytime I wish, you try to convince yourself. Initially, grief and guilt overwhelm you, but gradually even those emotions fade.
You are captured, a prisoner of spiritual warfare, bound and chained. Sometimes you think you would like to break free, but you no longer have the strength. Face it, most of the time you no longer even want to try. What was once a wicked perversion is now a satisfying activity. You risk hearth and home to do it one more time.
From the safety of hindsight you look back and say, "If only. If only I had stopped. If only I had never started." But it is too late now. Your secret life is exposed. Your humiliation is complete.
Now everyone knows. Now everyone is talking.
That pious, self-righteous, holier-than-thou hypocrite.
I remember the people that he spoke against. I can hardly wait to tell them. They will be glad to hear.
How awful for his family.
How damaging for his church.
There, but for the grace of God, go I.
It is a chain reaction. A sensitive heart will be ashamed that it ever rejoiced or even considered rejoicing at a brother's calamity. A sensitive heart will remember all of the times when, "It could have been me."
If you are struggling, there is still time to escape. Get out now. There is a hand reaching out for you. It still carries the marks of the nails — it always will. Take Jesus' hand while you still can.
Published in the Augusta Chronicle 11/22/97
Copyright 1997 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
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