the BLOG of stuart mcdonald

SIN Issues
April 15, 2009, 2:22 pm
Filed under: Ministry

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a friend. I can’t remember how it started but we eventually began discussing people serving in ministry but not living holy and consecrated lives. When I reference to people in this instance, I’m only talking about those that are actively serving in ministry (and are therefore leaders in the church). I’m not talking about those that regularly attend or just show up when they feel like it.

If you know of someone that is LIVING in sin, and you do nothing about it, that would make you an accessory to the sin. An accessory is a person who assists in the commission of a crime, but who does not actually participate in the commission of the crime as a joint principal (definition – Wikipedia). After doing some research, I found that being an accessory to the crime is also punishable, so keep that in mind next time you decide not to bring someone’s ‘issues’ to the light of their leadership (after you give them a chance to come clean of course)

How can we prevent moral issues from arising?

Set the standard. It’s unreasonable for a child to be punished for something that he didn’t know not to do. The same is true for adults, and in this case, Christians. The standards must be clearly laid out and defined (not legislated, however, but clarified by the Holy Spirit) so that those that must abide by the standards understand the expectations. They must also be enforced if necessary. Laws lose their power if there’s not a punishment for breaking them.

I think we would all agree that if a Pastor had an affair or mismanaged tithes and offerings this would be totally inappropriate for a Senior Pastor. Or, how about an Elder? But what is acceptable for a Small Group leader that isn’t for an Elder? What is acceptable for a teacher on Wednesday night that isn’t acceptable for a Director?

Titus 1:6-9 gives us the Biblical mandate on the standards for Eldership:

“These elders should be men who are of unquestionable integrity and are irreproachable, the husband of but one wife, whose children are well trained and are believers, not open to the accusation of being loose in morals and conduct or unruly and disorderly.

For the bishop (an overseer) as God’s steward must be blameless, not self-willed or arrogant or presumptuous; he must not be quick-tempered or given to drink or pugnacious (brawling, violent); he must not be grasping and greedy for filthy lucre (financial gain); But he must be hospitable (loving and a friend to believers, especially to strangers and foreigners); he must be a lover of goodness, of good people and good things, sober-minded (sensible, discreet), upright and fair-minded, a devout man and religiously correct, temperate and keeping himself in hand.

He must hold fast to the sure and trustworthy Word of God as he was taught it, so that he may be able both to give stimulating instruction and encouragement in sound (wholesome) doctrine and to refute and convict those who contradict and oppose it, showing the wayward their error.”

WHY should we set those standards in place?

“There are many disorderly and unruly men who are idle (vain, empty) and misleading talkers and self-deceivers and deceivers of others. Their mouths must be stopped, for they are mentally distressing and subverting whole families by teaching what they ought not to teach, for the purpose of getting base advantage and disreputable gain.” (Titus 1:10,11)

Those that are more visible and well known should be held to a greater degree. Why? Because people look up to them AS the standard because they SEE them in whatever capacity (maybe singing or ushering or teaching) and assume they’re a leader. They have more influence over people and that influence must be used the right way. This doesn’t mean that we judge them differently; the Biblical standards are always the same. It does mean that they’ll be held accountable to a greater degree and just more strictly.

Look at what Jesus said to his disciples in Luke 17: “Things that cause people to sin are bound to come, but woe to that person through whom they come. It would be better for him to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around his neck than for him to cause one of these little ones to sin. So watch yourselves.”

Never promote someone who isn’t ready.
To whom much is given, much is required. Have you been driving and seen those signs right before the bridges telling you how much weight the bridge can hold? Have you ever wanted to test those to see if they’re really true?

If you can show God you’re faithful with the small things, then He knows He can trust you with greater responsibility. I think too often in the church, we tend to promote people to positions without properly examining their lives. Maybe it’s because they’re talented or gifted, or maybe it’s convenient because they’ll do a job no one else will. I don’t care how gifted or talented they are, or how easy it is, it’s not worth risking integrity over. Once you lose you character and integrity, it’s not easy found.

When you put more weight on something than it is equipped to handle, something will break. It may be the weight, it may be the person, or it may be both and in doing so hurts others around the ‘accident’.

What if someone has sinned or had a ‘moral failure? How can we determine whether or not a person truly has a desire to change their sinful situations? How do we determine what sins or what degree of sin makes it necessary for a person to step down from a leadership role in the church?

Identify the fruit in a person’s life. Jesus said “By their fruit you will recognize them… every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit.” (Matt 7:16-18) Is this an ongoing, habitual issue or did they have a ‘bad day’ and slip up once? Do they see that their actions are contrary to what the Bible teaches? Are they

Honestly, I don’t believe people “just slip up.” If you come and tell me, “Stuart, I had sex last night, but I don’t know how it happened, I just slipped up.” I’m not going to believe you. I’m not going to believe that you don’t know how it happened. Every time we choose to sin (because if you know better, it is a choice) we go down a road. At any point and time we can stop and turn around.

1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “But God is faithful to His Word and to His compassionate nature, and He can be trusted not to let you be tempted and tried and assayed beyond your ability and strength of resistance and power to endure, but with the temptation He will [always] also provide the way out (the means of escape to a landing place), that you may be capable and strong and powerful to bear up under it patiently.”

God gave us a way out but we, too often, choose to ignore it. Period.


Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: