But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. ~ I Corinthians 9:27 (ESV)
READING: I Corinthians 9:24-27
I’ve met many church planters in my life, but one of the best I ever knew was Justin (not his real name). A gifted evangelist, he easily made friends with unchurched people, and often led them to the Lord within a short time. Justin was also a very effective preacher. His sermons were interesting, thoughtful and personal, all the while remaining true to the meaning of the text.
The church Justin was planting was doing well. Many lost people had come to Christ and many others had begun a renewed walk with the Lord. He had assembled a committed team of leaders who were eager to reach the community for Christ.
But then Justin faced some personal challenges. A death in the family hurt him deeply. He was criticized unfairly by some people in the church. He began taking time off and would be gone for hours without explanation. I could tell he was depressed, and I wondered if he was hiding something. Finally his secret was revealed – he had become involved in an inappropriate relationship with another woman. His wife and children were deeply hurt and the church was devastated. Within a few weeks Justin resigned as pastor. Eventually, the church itself was forced to close.
Although the Apostle Paul was a godly and effective church planter, he knew that he was capable of falling into sin. He disciplined himself to stay focused. My friend, Justin, fell and was “disqualified.” Though he is still saved, he is no longer in ministry.
May God help us to stay close to Christ, obedient to His word and faithful to our families!
Protect me, Lord, from sin. Show me how to run the race – and finish – in holiness. Amen.