A preacher counsels a married woman and finds himself in an illicit relationship with her. Word leaks and soon both the preacher and the woman and separated from their spouses, children are stunned and embarrassed and the church is crippled by the public sin.
In another town a preacher’s computer is taken for repair and vile pictures of children are found on the hard drive. he is reported to police, arrested and tried for crimes against children.
In another city police stop a driver who is swerving and driving erratically. He is arrested and charged with DUI. Officers recognize the man as the local preacher. His mugshot is prominent on the front page of the newspaper.
Two common elements: Preachers. Sin.
Congregations like to imagine their preachers as bastions of virtue who stand strong against Satan and his ways. Yet preachers really are like everybody else. We are weak, wretched, poor blind and naked (Revelation 3:17). Preachers possess the same passions and desires as the average man in the pew. The same things that tempt you, also tempt us. There are some differences in the actual temptation but sin still calls to us as loudly as to others. While we should be strong and employ the right tools to reject sin, we often fail.
Media reports verify preacher weaknesses. From greedy business deals gone bad to homosexuality and other immoralities, preacher sins are well known and well documented. And because preachers are so visible the consequences of their sin is multiplied. If a member in the local church is caught in an affair it may be shrugged off by a society numbed to sin. But if that same sin is committed by the preacher it will be fodder for every gossip and for the media. Words like “double standard” and “hypocrite” will fly. Nevertheless, the weaknesses of the preacher are similar to those of every other person.
Samson was a Judge of Israel for 20 years (Judges 16:31). He had a particular weakness for women and routinely chased after them. He violated God’s law by marrying Delilah, a Philistine woman. Her trickery led directly to his downfall and eventual death (Judges 16:4ff).
King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 13:14; Acts 13:22), lusted after Bathsheba, pursued her and committed adultery with her. He then killed her husband in an attempt to cover up his sin (2 Samuel 11:2ff). David was driven by the same passions and lusts as the lowest servant in the kingdom and even the same lusts we face today.
Peter, the Lord’s chosen apostle, behaved in a racist, hypocritical way when he separated himself from Gentiles when Jews arrived. He was rebuked for his sin by Paul (Galatians 2:11-14).
Preachers Will Sin
It is wholly unreasonable to think that preachers do not sin. We do. Sometimes the sins are well known, well publicized and carry deep consequences. In such cases, preachers should remove themselves from public view and allow for healing. But let us recognize that preachers stumble too.
The world will heap criticism on the “hypocrite preacher” but the church must support and encourage him. Where repentance is made forgiveness must follow. Not too long ago a preacher was charged with drug related offenses. A spokesman for the local congregation was quoted as declaring that the man no longer preached for them. In my opinion that was a shameful response. Yes, the preacher should step down or be removed but the public face of the congregation was one of condemnation not love, encouragement, healing or forgiveness.
Be supportive of your preachers. Never condone sin but recognize that preachers are frail and imperfect. The very best preacher out there is still a sinner in need of a savior (Romans 3:23; 1 John 1:8). Help your preacher. Love your preacher. Respect your preacher but also know he is more like you than you may think.
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