This week I shared a burden for a friend that I’ll call Stan (not his real name) who was trying to give up rum and cigarettes. The Lord led me to create a “refuge” or place where he could be without the temptations of a rum shop (you can read more about that here).
I wish I could tell you that Stan has been faithful to the Lord since his decision a few weeks ago…..
But he hasn’t
Two weeks ago I invited him to have a Bible study with myself and another friend. He promised to come, and was actually with us up till that time, but didn’t show up for the Bible study. Then Stan began to strangely avoid everybody. In the last fourteen days I have seen him just once, which is not normal!
It isn’t hard to figure out what is going on
He fell back into drinking and smoking, or got himself into more serious trouble, and is ashamed of it. This keeps him away from me, church, and those who would be a Godly influence. The saddest part of this whole situation wasn’t his falling back into sin (though that breaks my heart). It’s the shame and guilt isolating him from others.
And this sad story is repeated countless times
An individual makes a decision for the Lord and does well for a short-time (usually based on emotion). But eventually they fall, and hear the voice of Satan calling them a failure. “You may as well just give up!” Satan tells them….and so they do.
I’ve met countless “backslidden Christians” like Stan who tried to serve the Lord in their own strength, failed, and never tried again.
So what is the answer?
Christians must pursue them with Grace
- By continuing to seek them out (I can’t let Stan hide from me)
- By offering love and grace when we do meet again
- By explaining sin cannot be dealt with alone
- And by explaining the Gospel is based upon Grace instead of works
- More than anything this means not allowing shame to isolate himself from everyone else
The thing about shame is it lies to us
It emphasizes only one part of the Gospel, that being our utter depravity (we are sinful and cannot save ourselves)
But the other part of the Gospel that shame overlooks is God’s gracious forgiveness for those who turn to Him.
Pray for me as I search out the Stan’s of Saint Vincent and explain that your more sinful than you can ever imagine, but God is also more gracious than you could ever imagine.