Guys, how does it make you feel when you see one of your Christian brothers fall?
If you’re honest, you may admit that it makes you feel good about yourself. Maybe even a bit superior to the one who fell. As you look back over the past few weeks you’ve made some pretty good progress. You’re really moving forward. You’re standing strong. You feel invincible!
Not like that guy, right?
It reminds me of the parable of the Pharisee and tax collector that Jesus told in Luke 18:10-14….
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.
“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.
“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
The Pharisee seems pretty pleased with himself. His prayer time consisted of reviewing his position and good works. He was proud to tell of his giving and sacrifice. He was thankful that he was better than the sinners – the failures – who surrounded him. The tax collector, on the other hand, stood off to the side. He humbled himself before the Lord, acknowledging his great failure and need for God. Jesus tells us that only one went away justified – and it wasn’t the one who had it all together.
I listened to a short devotional today – a recording by Thomas Brooks titled “Other Men’s Sins”. It’s amazing what you can learn in just a little over two minutes. I’d like to share it with you, too. Maybe it will make an impression on you like it did me.
In the audio clip Thomas Brooks says we should view other men’s sins with sadness – that we should mourn their sins. When we do, it helps us recognize our own fallibility and even helps us guard ourselves against failure in those same areas. When we are truly grieved by other men’s sins, we’re reminded of our own fleshly desires and the temptations that we must face and overcome daily. At one point in the devotion, he makes the statement “he fell today and I may fall tomorrow”. When we think this way, we’re more likely to stay on our faces before God rather than lifting them up in pride. We recognize our own potential to fall when we hurt to see other Christians fall.
And to those who do find pleasure in seeing a Christian fall, here’s a sobering thought…
When you rejoice at the failures of those around you, you are like Satan.
That’s what he does. He rejoices when a Christian commits a sinful act. He laughs when a man of God fails. He smiles the smile of pride when he convinces a Christian to disobey God’s word. It gives the devil pleasure. Thomas Brooks said men who are like this “are rather monsters than men”.
So where is your heart right now? Do you mourn when you see a brother fall or do you find pleasure in it? If we’re honest, most of us have probably been both the mourner and the monster at different times in our life. Let’s agree together right now that we will love our brothers in Christ and help them get back up if they fall. Let’s pray that the sins of others break our heart and remind us of our own imperfection and need for God’s grace. Because we will all need it. No matter who we are.
Take a couple of minutes to listen to the clip from Thomas Brooks then leave your thoughts in the comments area below.
Strength & Honor.