Proverbs 6:27-29, 32-33
I just returned from our nation's capital where I was privileged to spend time with many of the highest-ranking officers in the military. If you have ever wondered if there is anyone in the upper echelon of the military who loves Christ, wonder no longer. Many of these men and women are magnificent models of strong Christian commitment who frequently put their faith on the line.
While sitting around a table one morning, the subject of moral purity surfaced. They spoke of the importance of an officer's having a clean record and maintaining strong character traits if he or she hoped to be trusted in larger realms and promoted to higher ranks. Their commitment to personal integrity was expressed so spontaneously and sincerely.
As I listened to them, I was humiliated to think that a standard of high moral character was still of paramount importance among military officers while within the ranks of the clergy an epidemic of impurity rages.
As Christian leaders, we need to reaffirm our commitment to moral purity and to private lives that are absolutely free of secret sins. While forgiveness continues to be the pulse-beat of a grace-oriented ministry, a firm commitment to holiness remains vital. Those who adopt a deceptive, compromising life of hypocrisy are responsible for the damage that occurs when they are found out. Nor are the consequences erased, even though they may repent and seek the Lord's and others' forgiveness.
Often, we are too quick to breeze past the damage that has been done, attempting to hurry the process of forgiveness at the expense of the restoration process. A contrite heart has no expectations and makes no demands; it acknowledges that the deception and the extent of continued sin result in the continued forfeiture of many of the privileges that were once enjoyed. Please read that again. If you've gotten soft on this issue, stop and read the daily reading suggested above. Don't try to explain these verses away. They mean exactly what they say.
The issue here is not a lack of forgiveness; it's the faulty thinking that forgiveness is synonymous with the returning of all rights and privileges.
Never has the truth of Peter's words resounded more clearly: "It is time for judgment to begin with the household of God" (1 Peter 4:17).
As believers, we need to reaffirm our commitment to moral purity and to private lives that are absolutely free of secret sins.
Excerpted from Day by Day with Charles Swindoll, Copyright © 2000 by Charles R. Swindoll, Inc. (Thomas Nelson Publishers). All rights reserved worldwide. Used by permission.