Avoiding ‘secret ingredients’ of sinfulness in life

Published 6:25 am Friday, November 23, 2018


Religion Columnist

One of my favorite parts of being a scoutmaster is teaching leadership to our scouts. My favorite module is called “Leadership Communicates Character.” I bake a big pan of brownies for the scouts, and then tell them this story.

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A father of some teenagers did not want them to attend PG-13  or R rated movies. One PG-13 movie caught their interest, and they interviewed church friends to find out what was offensive in the movie. There were only three curse words, a building exploding (but no one was seen dying), and it was implied that a couple was having sex. The positives included everyone was seeing this blockbuster, it had a good story and plot, and if they got to watch the movie they wouldn’t feel left out when everyone talked about it. They presented their case and asked their dad to reconsider his position for just this ONE movie.

The father told them he was pleased they had worked to make their case and he would let them know the next day. As they gathered, they were curious about the plate of brownies on the table. The father said he had decided that if they would eat a brownie then he would let them go to the movie. But just like the movie, the brownies had pros and cons. The pros were that they were made with the finest chocolate with walnuts. They were moist with frosting on top. The brownies only had one con. The father had included a little bit of a special ingredient. The brownies also contained just a little bit of dog manure. But he had mixed the dough well, cooked them at 350 degrees, and they would probably never taste the special ingredient. Therefore, if anyone could eat the brownie with just a “little bit of manure” then he could trust they could see a movie with “just a little bit of smut”.

At this point I tell the scouts I have added that special ingredient to the brownies. Would anyone like a brownie? The looks on their faces is priceless for about five seconds, and then all the older scouts dive in and eat. They say that they know me too well, and I was just teaching them a lesson about the importance of character. I would never let them eat a brownie with that special ingredient in it. The next 20 minutes is always a great discussion about the importance of great character in great leaders.

The same is true of the church. God wants his leaders to have great character and will go to great lengths to bring about such character. The theological word for character building in the Bible is sanctification. This is the process of taking us where we are and transforming us into a disciple who desires to live a life free from sin (see Proverbs 6:16-19). The prophet Ezekiel says it in a positive way. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36;26-27).

The more responsibility you have in your church the more holiness, righteousness, and purity is expected of you. Through the years I have met too many people who have stories of anger at ministers and church leaders who have had sexual affairs, committed crimes, even committed suicide. The effects of these actions are devastating to the church family. The sins shatter peoples’ faith journeys for years, even decades, that follow.

In our information age there is no excuse for a person to be lazy about finding help for whatever great sin tempts you. If you don’t know what your great sin is then you need to email me a request to get the Humility Exercise right now. You need to know your weaknesses or satan will use them to weaken or destroy you when you least expect it, and God cannot use you to his glory nearly as effectively because of the barriers of sin.

Do you have a painful church story in your past that you need to forgive someone and let go of the hurt? What is your greatest sin and temptation to sin? What are you doing to correct it? Who do you trust to hold you accountable? If you don’t trust someone to hold you accountable you have an important relationship to build!

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous articles, visit www.lagrangepres.com.