When I went to my front door to leave for work one morning, I was horrified to discover that I had left it unlocked all night! I checked my apartment to make sure nothing was missing – all was safe. Praise the Lord!
This episode reminded me of the advice from King Solomon:
Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23 (TNIV)
Even more important that guarding our physical front door is guarding the spiritual door to our hearts. Just as I had a false sense of security in the mistaken belief that the deadbolt of my door was in place, sometimes I’ve been complacent in guarding my spiritual sphere of life. How dangerous!
Have you ever judged someone else’s moral failure with the comment that “I’d never do something like that,” only to yield to the temptation yourself later? I must admit that I have. Such is the danger of pointing the finger at someone else – three other fingers are pointing back at yourself.
I have always admired Dr. Bill Bright (the founder of Campus Crusade for Christ) and evangelist Billy Graham for the strong testimony of the integrity shown in their public and private lives. Both recognized the moral dangers confronting Christian leaders and took action to prevent them.
In the article “Four Foundational Decisions in the Life and Ministry of Billy Graham” by Jake Hanson, the writer describes a decisive moment in Dr. Graham’s life: “the temptations for a traveling evangelist were great, and the honor of the name of Christ was at stake. Evangelists have always had a bad name—this was no less the case during the rise of Billy Graham. While Billy himself had never been involved in any major scandal, he knew he was not immune from it.”
So in 1948, Billy called his team together with the goal of identifying the most common pitfalls and how to guard against them.
- Financial abuses. In order to avoid undue influence, shady appeals for money, and illegal misappropriations, they committed to integrity and openness in monetary matters.
- Sexual Indiscretions. Billy vowed never to be alone with a woman other than his wife and implemented other safe-guards as well.
- Unhealthy/unbiblical competition among faith organizations. Billy’s team modeled efforts to work with local churches wherever possible.
- Exaggeration. The temptation to inflate figures to satisfy pride was combated by a strong commitment to accurately report attendance and decisions.
What are your greatest temptations?
Identify the triggers or situations that pull you into these temptations.
How can you avoid those situations?
What Bible verses can you claim to overcome these challenges?
Do you have someone you trust to become your accountability partner, who can keep confidences, is willing to warn you of danger, whom you can call when tempted, and will help you to recover when you fall?
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8 NIV