“And this is the message I proclaim—that the day is coming when God, through Christ Jesus, will judge everyone’s secret life.” (Romans 2:16 NLT)
The news is constantly buzzing with the latest scandal among ministers and churches. Recently a high-profile minister admitted he had turned to alcohol in times of stress and pressure. His downfall shocked the church where he pastored, as well as the Body of Christ around the world. Rather than judge those who fall, we are told to restore them and be aware that we are all subject to temptations and failures.
With a humble attitude, we must face the fact that it is easy to get to a place where a secret life tries to live alongside a person’s real life. The Scripture in Romans says God will judge our secret lives. My conclusion is in that case, I don’t want a secret life. If there is two of me it is exhausting to maintain. It reminds me of an airline pilot have two families located in two different cities. How exhausting!
We are tempted to create a secret life to escape to whether it is in drugs, alcohol, the opposite sex, or even something good that takes us into an existence outside of our normal lives.
David prayed, “Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11 NIV) An undivided heart is the same as integrity. (“The quality or condition of being whole or undivided; completeness.” Webster’s) The word has its roots in the Latin word for integer which means to be whole or complete.
It is impossible to walk in integrity when two of you exists. A national politician said in a speech that there were actually two of her. One she presented to her supporters and the other one was for the masses. That must not be the case for leaders and ministers of the gospel.
The question is, how does someone walk in integrity without a secret life? The Bible prides some simple answers. Allow me to translate them into practical steps we can all take.
- Live transparently before God and people. Don’t hide your true self. A president was having his portrait painted and the artist asked if he should include the flaws. The president answered, paint what you see, warts and all.
- Bring your flaws and mistakes into the light. The best disinfectant is sunlight. Shame causes us to hide. Adam and Eve hid from God after sinning in the garden. Drag your sin into the light.
- Have an accountability system where someone knows your secrets. Have a small group or several people where you can be completely honest. Study the John Wesley “bands” where three or four people of the same sex gathered together weekly to be honest about their failures and successes.
- Develop a relationship with God where you can be completely honest about everything. David commented in Psalm 51 that God desires truth in our inmost being. Open your life and heart to him in every detail.
- Be humble enough to admit you have weaknesses and could fail under the right circumstances.
A story is told about a Bible school teacher who asked his students to raise their hands if they thought they were capable of adultery. Only one raised his hand. The professor remarked, “you are the one who is least likely to actually commit adultery.” The point was that he was honest and humble enough to recognize his vulnerability.
If 25-30% of biblical leaders finish well and 70-75% do not, that should put a healthy fear of the Lord in all of us and a willingness to recognize that we need to intentionally strive toward the high calling we have received.
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” (Philippians 3:14 NLT)