06 January 2008

"The Reformed Pastor"--the consequences of failing God

What if I stumble?
What if I fall?
What if I lose my step
and I make fools of us all?
Will the love continue
if my walk becomes a crawl?
What if I stumble?
And what if I fall?
--dc talk, "What If I Stumble?"

Those who take the pulpit without the proper reverance and respect it deserves, and who do not take heed to their own spiritual condition do more than disgrace themselves when they stumble and fall. They bring shame upon the name of God and His Christ:
7. Take heed to yourselves, for the honor of your Lord and Master, and of his holy truth and ways, doth lie more on you than on other men. As you may render him more service, so you may do him more disservice than others. The nearer men stand to God, the greater dishonor hath he by their miscarriages; and the more will they be imputed by foolish men to God himself. The heavy judgments executed on Eli and on his house were because they kicked at his sacrifice and offering: ‘Therefore was the sin of the young men very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.’ It was that great aggravation, of ‘causing the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme,’ which provoked God to deal more sharply with David, than he would otherwise have done.

If you be indeed Christians, the glory of God will be dearer to you than your lives. Take heed therefore what you do against it, as you would take heed what you do against your lives. Would it not wound you to the heart to hear the name and truth of God reproached for your sakes; to see men point to you, and say, ‘There goes a covetous priest, a secret tippler, a scandalous man; these are they that preach for strictness, while they themselves can live as loose as others; they condemn us by their sermons, and condemn themselves by their lives; notwithstanding all their talk, they are as bad as we. ‘O brethren, could your hearts endure to hear men cast the dung of your iniquities in the face of the holy God, and in the face of the gospel, and of all that desire to fear the Lord? Would it not break your hearts to think that all the godly Christians about you should suffer reproach for your misdoings? Why, if one of you that is a leader of the flock, should be ensnared but once into some scandalous crime, there is scarcely a man or woman that seeketh diligently after their salvation, within the hearing of it, but, besides the grief of their hearts for your sin, are likely to have it cast in their teeth by the ungodly about them, however much they may detest it, and lament it.

The ungodly husband will tell his wife, and the ungodly parents will tell their children, and ungodly neighbors and fellow-servants will be telling one another of it, saying, ‘These are your godly preachers! See what comes of all your stir. What better are you than others? You are even all alike.’ Such words as these must all the godly in the country hear for your sakes. ‘It must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh!’ O take heed, brethren, of every word you speak, and of every step you tread, for you bear the ark of the Lord, — you are entrusted with his honor! If you that ‘know his will, and approve the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law, and are confident that ye yourselves are guides of’ the blind, and lights to them that are in darkness, instructors of the foolish, teachers of babes,’ — if you, I say, should live contrary to your doctrine, and ‘by breaking the law should dishonor God, the name of God will be blasphemed’ among the ignorant and ungodly ‘through you.’ And you are not unacquainted with that standing decree of heaven, ‘Them that honor me I will honor; and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.’ Never did man dishonor God, but it proved the greatest dishonor to himself. God will find out ways enough to wipe off any stain that is cast upon him; but you will not so easily remove the shame and sorrow from yourselves.

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