When a good man is tempted
Do you remember the first time you discovered that someone you idealized wasn't perfect? Maybe it was a parent, or a religious or political leader. Someone I know once felt betrayed and outraged when a man he greatly admired as a spokesman for morality was found to be committing adultery.
''That hypocrite!'' my friend thought to himself. ''How could he dare stand before the community when in his private life he was denying his own words?'' The condemnation was harsh and total. When the man's career and life were virtually ruined, my friend was glad. ''Serves him right,'' he told himself.
Imagine my friend's surprise when years later one who had fallen morally came to him for Christian counsel and healing prayer! This person had been a civic leader, an outstanding example of honesty in his profession. But somehow, over the years, he had compromised his integrity. A dishonest business deal came to light, with great publicity, and the man's whole career was in ruins.
The man was remorseful beyond words - at the point of suicide. He couldn't look people in the face, he said, and the harshest criticism was coming from - would you believe - people in his own church. They felt he had not only compromised his own integrity but had besmirched his religion. He felt the full weight of this passage in Ezekiel: ''All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.'' n1
n1 Ezekiel 18:24.
Happily, through repentance and the saving grace of God he found in Christian Science, he did not ''die'' in his sins. Instead, through prayer and great tribulation, he is now happy to testify that he is learning more each day of man's sinless spiritual identity in Christ and is being ''born again.''
The Christian demands of giving spiritual aid to such an individual made my friend totally ashamed of his earlier self-righteousness. He realized he had naively expected humanm perfection of others, forgetting Christ Jesus' command ''Judge not, that ye be not judged.'' n2
n2 Matthew 7:1.
There are definite Christian standards to fulfill. But who, solely on his own , can possibly live up to all the Biblical commandments without ever sinning? Yet the Bible tells us, ''The wages of sin is death.'' n3 It would seem that the only legitimate thing for us to do is die! Don't we deserve it, if we sin?
n3 Romans 6:23.
How much better to rejoice that ''there is . . . now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus . . . . For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.'' n4 Christ Jesus' standard is perfection, but it's a perfection that comes from God and that God empowers us to demonstrate through the understanding of man's true nature as His image.
n4 Romans 8:1, 2.
The Master himself said, ''If any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.'' n5 Shall we be more righteous than our Saviour, then, and judge from a human basis? Or shall we rather follow Jesus' example and, if possible, seek to save sinners through the grace of love and forgiveness?
n5 John 12:47.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, once wrote to her Church: ''If a man is jealous, envious, or revengeful, he will seek occasion to balloon an atom of another man's indiscretion, inflate it, and send it into the atmosphere of mortal mind - for other green eyes to gaze on: he will always find somebody in his way, and try to push him aside; will see somebody's faults to magnify under the lens that he never turns on himself.'' n6
n6 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 129.
We don't have to blow up any balloons. Sin always punishes itself. It's not our business to become part of the punishment through self-righteous condemnation and judgment. Condemn the sinm, yes, but seek to save the sinner. Someone's whole life may be redeemed through the miracle of grace and forgiveness working in us. What a blessing to him, to us, and to the world! DAILY BIBLE VERSE If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14