Over the last few months, I have been granted the privilege of deeper growth in my relationship my God and Savior. There have been many challenges come my way, and I have learned much from them. One of area of growth has been Christ-like living. I have heard from many people over the years that those in any sort of pastoral position are held to a higher standard, and I would agree. However, what seems to be taking place is that those who aren’t called to be pastors brush off whatever sin they are involved in using the excuse; “we all stumble” or “I’m just human!” Contrary to popular belief (or at least common thought), everyday Christians are also called to a high standard for living. I understand that as pastors, we are called to a higher standard of living. But we (Christians) mustn’t use that in order to remain enslaved to our own sin. Check out Ephesians 5:1-21. When Paul wrote this letter, he was writing to the entire church at Ephesus, not just pastors.
Ephesians 5:1-21 (NASB)
1 “Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children;
2 and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.
3 But immorality or any impurity or greed must not even be named among you, as is proper among saints;
4 and there must be no filthiness and silly talk, or coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks.
5 For this you know with certainty, that no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God.
6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.
7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;
8 for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light
9 (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth),
10 trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.
11 Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;
12 for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.
13 But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light.
14 For this reason it says, “Awake, sleeper, And arise from the dead, And arise from the dead.”
15 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise,
16 making the most of your time, because the days are evil.
17 So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit,
19 speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;
20 always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to Go, even the Father;
21 and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.”
I am no scholar, but Paul makes it very clear in this passage that as children of Christ, we are to be upright, focused on God our Father in all we do.
I am so tired of hearing professing Christians tell me that as one called by God to pastoral ministry I must live by a higher standard, and by implication, they also say they’re excused from a higher standard because they aren’t called to be a pastor. Don’t get me wrong, I am not excusing myself for the times when I stumble, and I’m not telling you that you cannot approach me if you see an area in my life where I am not living blamelessly. What I’m trying to communicate is just because one is called to be a pastor and you’re not doesn’t mean that you are excused for the way you live. I have not, do not, and will not tell anyone that I’m without sin, however, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you and I cannot use excuses to brush off our sin. We serve a holy and righteous God, we must not expect He will allow His children to sin because “we’re just human.”