This week we’re going to skip the Jericho success and march straight on to the battle of Ai and the sin of Achan. I guess we could have made a blog on how if you keep going round in circles making a fool of yourself long enough eventually God will give you a spectacular breakthrough, but I don’t think that’s the experience of most of us.
To cut a long story short, the Israelite army was beaten – thereby endangering God’s reputation – because one man had a secret sin. One man’s moral failure risked the whole invasion as the Israelites were demoralised and their enemies learned they that their God was not invincible after all. With our Christian emphasis on grace and forgiveness, it’s easy for us to tolerate similar small shortcomings in our lives, but this incident makes it clear that God takes our personal integrity seriously. And in case you’re thinking that’s just an Old Testament paradigm, remember Ananias and Sapphira (Acts chapter 5)?
So our behaviour is still important, even if we think nobody can see. And when we talk of personal integrity, moral failure and secret sin, most of the time there’s an implication that we mean sexual sin. But it’s more than that. In both the biblical cases mentioned it was about covetousness. It could also be anger, resentment, greed, secret drinking when we’re supposed to be teetotal on the field, or many other personal problems which we like to tell ourselves we have under control, but in fact, we don’t. And wouldn’t it be terribly shaming to us and dishonouring to God if those sins were discovered and our entire ministry collapsed?
So what do we do about it? Most of us know the answer already, but we tell ourselves sweet little lies like “it’s not harming anyone”, “it’s my way of coping with the pressure” or “it could be a lot worse” which blind us to the truth that we are putting the entire ministry of ourselves and our colleagues at risk, as well as God’s reputation.
In order to deal with this we need a radical awakening (which sadly sometimes only comes with downfall). We need to ask ourselves whether we really are “walking in a manner worthy of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:12). Or, as a friend of mine put it:
If Satan wanted to take you out of ministry, how would he do it?*
Satan knows our weak spots, and we need to recognise them to and take steps to defend them. Some practical steps we can take to do this include:
- go on retreat and specifically pray about how God wants to develop our character and lifestyle;
- have an accountability partner with whom you can be totally honest and confess sin;
- keep a prayer diary – of successes and failures – to chart progress;
- make a point of reading Christian books that directly address your weaknesses.
If a confidential discussion about any issues in your life would help you, get in touch with Syzygy by emailing email@example.com. We’d be pleased to help you get walking in a worthy manner again.