— 14 —
Over the years, I have known hundreds of well-known
evangelical ministers, including TV preachers, and I know most to be godly,
honest, and moral people. It is a great injustice to many wonderful,
Christ-like spiritual leaders to stereotype them along with those of lesser
We do sadly recognize that a small percentage of
preachers have been guilty of shameful practices. In such cases, it appears
that most started out with sincere intentions, but somehow later fell prey
to the temptations that came their way. I personally knew a world-famous
evangelist who fell into sin and scandal. When he first started in the
ministry, I knew him to be humble, sincere and Godly. However, fame and
affluence brought temptations which corrupted his integrity. How sad it was
— how devastating for the body of Christ when his sins were aired before the
We cannot make excuse for their sins, but at the same
token, we must realize that Satan does work harder to tempt spiritual
leaders to fall, knowing that if they do there will be a chain-reaction of
casualties to the body of Christ.
Backsliding, sin, and hypocrisy are nothing new to the
ranks of the church. Paul wrote about false brethren (2 Cor. 11:26), false
apostles (2 Cor. 11:13), and specifically mentioned one of his co-workers
who had backslidden. "...for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this
present world..." (2 Tim. 4:10). There have always been, and will always be,
believers, including preachers, who falter. But we can't discount all
preachers because of the sins of a few.
I can remember a time or two as a kid, unwittingly
biting into a wormy apple, only to quickly spit out the pieces in disgust.
Those experiences left a bad taste in my mouth, but it didn't cause me to
give up eating apples. I simply learned to look more closely before sticking
things in my mouth.
So don't let the bad taste of a few bad apples spoil
your appreciation for all ministers. Before you "bite" into anyone's
ministry, you have the right to inspect their fruit (Gal. 5:22-24). This is
how the Bible teaches us to spot false prophets. "Beware of false prophets,
who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or
figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad
tree bears bad fruit" (Matt. 7:15-17).
God has chosen for godly men to be His messengers and to help point lives to our Savior (Eph. 4:11-12), but we must always remember that the basis of our faith is the Lord Jesus Christ, not preachers or anyone else. Men are still only human and are subject to failure. So keep your focus upon Jesus. He will never fail you. "...looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..." (Heb. 12:2).