Not all that long ago, I saw a story about another person in ministry who needed to step aside because of a moral failing. Sometimes it’s over abusing church funds or terrible leadership but most often it involves sexual misconduct in some form. Someone who had been in ministry for many years, who lead a staff and had a substantial public platform, ends up losing their position, testimony and often times their family, because of a moral failure. It is hard to understand how this happens. But it does way too often. Their life seems to have run off into the ditch.
I realize God can redeem these situations. He is a God who forgives and there can be some great stories of grace, forgiveness and restoration with situations like I’ve described. But I’d rather people not get into these situations in the first place. I’d rather people not ever run their lives into the ditch.
You’ve seen cars abandoned alongside the road. For no apparent reason, a car is off the road, in a ditch. It’s stranded and you may wonder, “What happened?” To the owner of the car, it’s embarrassing and it takes time and money to get the car back up out of the ditch. Clearly, going into the ditch is a bad thing.
It’s the same with people. We see them alongside the road (so-to-speak) in the ditch and wonder, “How did this happen?”
I often think of this when I consider the Children of Israel in Exodus 32. These people had seen God do great things over and over again, yet they so badly failed Him. They ended up worshiping a “golden calf” with various sacrifices among committing other grievous offenses just months from their exodus out of Egypt.
I see a four step process in their sin progression leading to their downfall – their path into the ditch.
When the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron and said to him, “Come make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who lead us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him. – Exodus 32:1 NKJV
Step 1 – They had a WRONG Perspective.
The “saw” Moses delayed, but did he? Was Moses really late in coming down from the mountain? Or did they get themselves looking at their situation wrongly? Their perspective was completely off. There was nothing wrong Moses, but the way they were looking at the situation was completely off.
We can do this when we begin to look at everything in a negative aspect. “This will never get better” or “Everyone hates me” or when we can only see problems and never how God has blessed, protected and provided for us. This is also happens when we are offended over every perceived slight. Our perspective is wrong.
Step 2 – They went to the WRONG Source
They gathered around Aaron. We know Aaron was Moses’ older brother and we know he was a good speaker. God tells us that in Exodus 4:14. He was there for all the big events. But he wasn’t Moses. He wasn’t the leader of the people. He wasn’t the man God was communicating with directly. He was the wrong source for the people to seek wisdom and counsel.
While not trying to be over-simplistic, we so often go to wrong sources. Like Aaron, these sources seem right, but they aren’t. God’s Word is the ONLY source for wisdom, direction, encouragement etc. If we need help with our marriage, our finances, our relationships, our career paths and any other life decision, we need to go to the book. Sure, we can gain help from friends, family, professionals etc, but unless that advice is rooted in His Word, it too is a wrong source.
Step 3 – They came to a WRONG Conclusion
“We don’t know what’s happened to Moses” is another way of saying, “He’s left us and isn’t coming back.” When you are thinking wrong, and looking for help from the wrong sources, you end up coming to wrong conclusions. Things like, “This marriage will never work out. I’d be better off without her” or “God’s abandoned me. I’d be better off dead.” Sadly, when an individual reaches this stage, the car is fast approaching the side of the pavement and will soon be plummeting off the road into a ditch.
Step 4 – They committed WRONG Actions
In verse 6, the wording tends to be cleaned up a bit and made more family friendly, but this is a really offensive situation they are participating in as people. This was a drunken sex orgy. These people are in the ditch.
When you are in the ditch this bad, it is impossible to get yourself out of it. You’ll need help. It’s embarrassing. It will take time and it probably cost you money, just like when you run into the ditch with your car.
Rather than go through all that hassle, don’t go into the ditch in the first place.
Here a verse to close with, Psalm 119:133
Direct my steps by Your Word, and let no iniquity have dominion over me.
Do you want to keep yourself out of the ditch? Be in His Word. His promise to you is that if your steps are directed by Him (which means we are totally submitted to Him) we will not be controlled or ruined by sin. In other words, we’ll stay out of the ditch.
Wrong perspective, leads to wrong sources, allows us to make wrong conclusions which result in wrong actions.
Don’t go in the ditch.
Blessings my friend.