“Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”1 Corinthians 9:24-27
As believers we are quite aware of how our day to day conduct can amplify the name of Christ in our lives and how a failure, no matter how great or small can tarnish the very name we glorify.
In interacting with a fellow colleague I was introduced to the life of a man who worked for a particular company in town. He was focused on his work and was considered an exemplary employee to many. My colleague went on to tell me how this man was stealing funds from the company for his own gain. News reached the owners of that firm that this once exemplary employee was a thief. We can all see why this man was soon after that confronted and then terminated from that company.
What struck me as extremely odd was how my colleague finished this sad story of someone’s moral failure. She went on to say, “It’s so sad how this ended for him. I can’t understand why he did what he did because he was a devout Christian man.”
How horrific of a blemish to carry on our names for the rest of our lives. Christians, followers of the Almighty God, reduced to the moniker of thieves, liars, cheaters, and defrauders for personal gain.
In light of this I found it necessary to focus on the lives of believers who lived imperfect lives but retained a testimony of strength and humility to the very end of their days.The Graham Witness
It was Billy Graham, the American evangelist who lived to the ripe age of 100, when invited to lunch by then, the first lady of Arkansas, Hillary Clinton, he said:
“I’d be glad to meet you for lunch, but it would be at a public place and I’ll have to have one of my associates with me, so it’s not just the two of us having lunch together.”The Zacharias Witness
The late world-renowned apologist Ravi Zacharias on discussing public scandals and private failure in ones Christian life went on to advise us in this way:
“If you’re looking for a person without blemish, either stop looking or dive deeper into reality. Be good, be great if it’s possible, but when you fail—and you will—make sure that you do and are better.”The Wesley Witness
It was Susan Wesley, the mother of Methodism, the irreplaceable mother of John and Charles Wesley, penned a letter to her son John on June 8, 1725, saying this:
“Whatever weakens your reason, impairs the tenderness of your conscience, obscures your sense of God, takes off your relish for spiritual things, whatever increases the authority of the body over the mind, that thing is sin to you, however innocent it may seem in itself.”
Let us honor the Lord as Billy Graham did by setting perimeters in our lives that will decrease the chances of us being at the center of a scandal. Let us, as Ravi Zacharias did, understand that at the foundation of our redemption, is Christ Jesus our Mediator. It is He who forgives us our sins. And like Susan Wesley, let us set aside the things that weaken, impair, obscure, tarnish or remove the relish for spiritual things. Let us remove the things that increase the authority of the body over that of the Spirit in our lives.
In doing so, we are, by God’s grace and mercy, able to leave behind a witness of honor that points our lives to Jesus. To be known as a man or woman of God, one demonstrates His love for all people; sharing the gospel in word and in deed is our duty. It is our calling.
That is the witness of a transformed life.
“Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.”1 Timothy 4:16