Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Planning Your Escape by Doug Hunter

Topic on Integrity and Ethics.

The knot in my stomach grew as I listened to South Carolina’s governor, Mark Sanford, reveal to the world that he had joined the tragically long list of men and women in positions of great influence who have fallen morally, sacrificing not only that great influence, but so much more.

Ironically – although very typical of how God works in my life – I have just been studying David in my personal quiet times, and I found the knot I felt this week very similar to the one I feel when I read of David’s failure with Bathsheba … and all of damage that fall caused for David, his family and the whole nation of Israel for years to come.

Of course, the Bible tells us that our hearts are all “desperately wicked”, and we can trace this pattern of failure all the way back to Adam … so what should we expect? Right? … actually, I don’t think that is right at all. Certainly, God knows we are all moral failures – “for all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) – that is why we need a Savior. But He also says that we don’t have to be slaves to that failure, and that He “will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” (I Corinthians 10:13 NASB) God had provided Adam, David … and Governor Sanford … with a way of escape – they just didn’t take it. Too often, I don’t either, but I’m learning to be intentional in planning to use that escape in advance. Let me explain.

Even though you and I can’t know the specifics of the temping situations we will face, we can take steps to enable us to see and take advantage of the “way of escape” God promises He will provide. For instance …

CHECK YOUR FOUNDATION – Fight to maintain a vital, growing relationship with Christ, with your spouse, your family, your church. Know what the Bible says, and let a biblical world view be the lens that brings clarity to your decisions and actions.

BUILD KEY RELATIONSHIPS – David was alone when he got into trouble, and too often that is a contributing factor … “It is not good for man to be alone” (Genesis 2:18) can apply to more than just the need for a “helpmate”, although the depth and transparency of your relationship with your spouse is the most important of your keys. You also need to have people who know and care enough about you to “encourage you to love and good deeds” as well as challenge you when you need to be challenged … and who will pray for you faithfully. You need to be part of a small group – this is why I had to get back into an FCCI group as soon as I stepped into this role.

PLAN – You and I know most of our weaknesses – where much of our temptation is likely to arise – so we can plan at least some of our own protection. Avoiding certain situations (like being alone or traveling with a person of the opposite sex) developing defensive habits (I put a towel over the television set in my hotel room so I have to make a conscious decision to take it off and turn the TV on) or using strategically placed reminders of your priorities (family pictures around your office, subscribe to daily emails that focus your mind on God from the time you turn on your computer, etc.)

I could go on, but let me conclude with two things Governor Sanford said that we need to hear. He began his explanation by telling us “It began very innocently as I suspect many of these things do.” From the very first encounter with man and woman in the Garden of Eden, it has been clear that our enemy is wise and subtle. He takes situations that appear innocent, and turns them into traps … and he takes the truth and distorts it just enough so that it still has the sound of truth, but it’s his version, not God’s. You and I also have to know that, because we have been placed in positions of leadership and influence, that same enemy has even more reason to want to take us down – and as publically as possible. Of course, we don’t want to pin everything on some outside force – as Pogo so famously said, and as you and I can often confirm, “We have met the enemy … and we are him!” It’s good we don’t have to fight this two-front battle alone!

Gov. Sanford also prefaced his statement with the comment that "We'll let the chips fall where they may." You and I need to remember that, as members of the Body of Christ, we can’t live with that philosophy. Falling chips can hurt, and they usually hit more people than we could ever imagine. As Ambassadors for Jesus Christ, as the “light of the world”, as a “city set on a hill”, we have more than enough reason to be intentional in where our chips fall … or IF our chips fall. At a time when the world is looking for moral authority, for stability, for hope … you and I need to plan … and to “take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.” (Galatians 6:13 NASB)

Lord, please keep me from ever being the cause of a knot in someone else’s stomach! Amen.

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