Pretty sure I’m not alone in the experience of hearing news of a friend who has perhaps had an affair, or left their family, or succumbed to drug and alcohol addiction, pornography or any number of moral and spiritual failures. If this has not happened to someone you know, you’ve certainly heard this in news headlines about trusted evangelical leaders. Our hearts break and we feel shocked, saddened, betrayed, and often angry. Some pass judgment, some show grace, but at some point we ask the question: “how did this happen?”
That’s what I want to talk about today. We have to be aware of the cracks in our armor and be willing to shore up our defenses against the many attacks of the Enemy. Most of my life when the conversation of temptation and sin was brought up the immediate (and only) answer given was: resist and flee. This simply isn’t enough, and it’s not an accurate picture of what’s truly needed. Sheer willpower will only take you so far. At times you may successfully turn away from sin, but what are you turning TOWARD?
Have you ever been inside one of those carnival fun houses with all the mirrors? I hate those things. But that’s what I imagine when I think of only “fleeing” temptation…we just keep bumping into ourselves at every turn, everything becomes distorted, confusing, and at times you can’t tell real from fake. You find yourself thinking “get me out of here!” And many times it takes a friend to help you out, someone who says “hey, I found the way out, come with me”.
When we do not regularly turn toward God and our community of believers we lose sight of who we are as renewed people. Our wisdom suffers and we grow weak and confused, leaving ourselves open to wandering and eventual defeat. I believe that Scripture speaks clearly enough on its own, so yes, I’m typing these out word for word because I want you to read them. No excuses since you don’t even have to go look them up.
Proverbs 13:20- “Walk with the wise and become wise; associate with fools and get in trouble.”
Proverbs 13:18- “If you ignore criticism, you will end in poverty and disgrace; if you accept correction, you will be honored.”
Hebrews 10:24-25- “Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another.”
Proverbs 10:17- “People who accept discipline are on the pathway to life, but those who ignore correction will go astray.”
1 Thessalonians 5:14- “Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.”
James 5:16- “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.”
Maybe you’re an introvert. Maybe you’re isolated on the mission field. Maybe you’re busy. Maybe you think you can’t trust people. Maybe you’re uncomfortable talking about certain things. I get that, but do not let that be an excuse. That’s exactly what the Enemy wants. NONE of us are immune, we ALL need accountability.
What are the cracks in your armor related to community?
Proverbs 28:26- “Those who trust their own insight are foolish, but anyone who walks in wisdom is safe.”
Proverbs 4:5-6- “Get wisdom; develop good judgment. Don’t forget my words or turn away from them. Don’t turn your back on wisdom, for she will protect you. Love her, and she will guard you.”
Proverbs 11:2- “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”
Proverbs 13:10- “Pride leads to conflict; those who take advice are wise.”
Proverbs 3:21-22- “My child, don’t lose sight of common sense and discernment. Hang on to them, for they will refresh your soul.”
Proverbs 14:8- “The prudent understand where they are going, but fools deceive themselves. Fools make fun of guilt, but the godly acknowledge it and seek reconciliation.”
Have you noticed that the writer of Proverbs uses words like “get”, “take hold of”, “guard”, and “develop” when speaking about wisdom? These are words describing an active pursuit of wisdom, not simply an avoidance of wrongdoing. GET wisdom. It is available to all who ask for it.
What are the cracks in you armor related to seeking wisdom?
Joshua 1:8- “Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
Colossians 3:10- “Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your creator and become like Him.”
Romans 7:6- “But now we have been released from the law, for we died to it and are no longer captive to its power. Now we can serve God, not in the old way of obeying the letter of the law, but in the new way of living in the Spirit.”
Romans 12:2- “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Ephesians 4:23-24- “Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God – truly righteous and holy.”
Ephesians 3:19- “May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.”
Community and wisdom have limited influence if we are not truly transformed by the love of Christ. I don’t know who you are, reading this right now, but I desperately want you to know that you have been given NEW LIFE and that life means freedom, it means purpose, it means fulfillment, it means change, it means hope, it means forgiveness.
What are the cracks in your armor related to inward renewal?
Are you in a place where you find yourself consistently lonely? Do you feel distant from your spouse or God? Are you regularly acting out of pride? Be honest about your thought patterns, are they concerning? Are you isolating yourself from those who speak wisdom into your life? Are you making excuses for any of these things? Are you consistently ignoring fellowship with God? Are you caught up in a legalistic, works-based faith? Are you unwilling to listen? Is your heart hard?
Are you the friend who sees these patterns and remains silent?
Are you the missionary sending agency that feels overwhelmed, understaffed, and underfunded where accountability gets left in the background?
To each of us I say: there is grace enough for all. And to each of us I beg: please speak up…reach out…and suit up.
We HAVE to talk about this. Our mission’s agencies need to talk about this. Our churches need to talk about this. Our people need to talk about this. Would we not prefer proactive accountability to reactive accountability?
“My child, pay attention to what I say. Listen carefully to my words. Don’t lose sight of them. Let them penetrate deep into your heart, for they bring life to those who find them, and healing to their whole body. Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life. Avoid all perverse talk; stay away from corrupt speech. Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Mark out a straight path for your feet; stay on the safe path. Don’t get sidetracked; keep your feet from following evil.” Proverbs 4:20-27