I recently learned that a dear friend of mine has fallen. He was well known and respected in my community and in business. A man of great leadership and influence, trusted almost without question by reputation of his personal integrity and wisdom. Many have been deeply wounded and put at risk by his profound and shocking moral failure.
- How could he do that to the people who loved and trusted him?
- How could he be so deceived as to think his behavior was ok?
- How could he (of all people) ignore the warnings of his conscious?
It is easy to feel anger about his actions. It is even easier to gossip about his fall, and in doing so apply a little ‘white wash’ to some of my own failures. But of course, the more I ask myself these questions, the more I am forced to look into the mirror of my own life.
Have I made choices that deeply hurt or put at risk those who trusted me? Have I ever been self-deceived? Have I ever silenced the internal voice that warns of consequences later for bad behavior now?
Of course I have.
“There but for the grace of God go I” ~John Bradford
The woman looking back at me in the mirror is not much different than my dear friend, except that my falls have been far less news worthy. And I’m immediately reminded of the deep patience of God for all those times when I have delayed obedience on making a change, making a correction to something the Holy Spirit of God was warning me about. In fact, there have been many times that I have delayed obedience so long that it got to the point that I could hear the Father say to me “Child, either you deal with this, or there will be consequences – and you’re not going to like them.”
No doubt, the Father also provided ample (and increasingly stern) warnings to my friend. Self-deception is a cruel mistress – whispering enticements like ‘with just had a little more time you can fix this’, and ‘no one will know’.
We have all been there, may even be there now. Self-deceived. On the brink of great fall. Risking public humiliation, loss of reputation and testimony, great financial loss, deeply wounding friends and loved ones by our continuing to turn a deaf ear to the warnings of the Holy Spirit.
And as I am reminded of my own tendencies towards self-deception, the mercy of God prompts me to ask a different question:
What should be my response when ‘the great ones’ fall?
The woman in the mirror knows the answer to that.