Righteousness guards the person of integrity,
but wickedness overthrows the sinner.
You want to know another thing that breaks my heart? The unending number of stories about pastors and ministry leaders who lead sinful, even criminal double lives. There isn’t much out there that can get my blood boiling more than hearing about men who use their position of authority to abuse innocent people under the guise of ministry. There are too many to even name at this point.
But what made me do a double-take recently was the number of pastors on Twitter who, in response to the news about Ravi Zacharias, said things like, “This could easily have been any one of us.” If that’s the case, then get out of ministry and get help. I understand wanting to extend grace and even empathy, but he is guilty of a pattern of criminally abusive sexual predation. That doesn’t just happen.
Today’s verse from Proverbs reminds us how important boundaries are. Jesus didn’t just warn against murder and adultery. He warned against the corrupting power of anger and lust. Outward sinful actions always start in the battleground of the heart and mind.
“Righteousness guards the person of integrity.” Righteousness is all about doing the right thing – even when no one is watching. Joseph is a good example of this, maintaining his commitment to God in slavery and prison and Pharaoh’s palace. The church needs more men and women of integrity, those whose lives are consistent across all the spheres in which we operate. That starts in the heart and mind. Then we build patterns of behavior and guiding principles to protect us from the infiltration of sin.
“Wickedness overthrows the sinner.” When Cain was angry with Abel, God warned him, “Sin is crouching at your door. It desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Cain had a choice. We always have a choice in any given situation. God always provides a way out. Sin always promises more than it delivers. It takes more than it gives. If we think we can handle it, we’re deceiving ourselves.
The good news is every day we get to make a choice about what kind of person we want to be. You can always start over. Every day is a new chance.