“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” Ephesians 2:8
It was only a few days ago when the world became aware of the internet hack that exposed data from the online extramarital affair company, Ashley Madison. News headlines began flooding the TV’s as well-known names like Josh Duggar and others were revealed as being registered with the company.
While most people took advantage of this information to begin publicly ridiculing a man who was caught in the act of adultery, I want to share some thoughts on the situation.
First, to those throwing stones (referencing John 8:7):
Check Your Own Eye
“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” – Matthew 7:3
Have you ever noticed how quickly we call out the sins of others, yet how we tend to sidestep the sins in our own life? I get it. I really do. Dealing with your own struggles can be difficult, even gut wrenching. Although it’s much easier to focus on the struggles of others, we must step back and realize that being holy is more important than looking holy. Remember, “For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you” (Matthew 7:2).
Now, to the one caught in the act:
Begin The Restoration Process
We’ve all screwed up. We’ve all made bad decisions. You’re not alone (even though you probably feel alone).
As someone who has experience their fair share of setbacks and failures, it’s important for you to know that making a mistake doesn’t make you a mistake. While hearing that may bring some form of comfort to you, the reality is that most setbacks cause you to feel disqualified from being used by God. Yes, it can slow down the process, but it’s critical that you understand this:
Your mistake makes you a candidate for a miracle to display God’s power.
Sin has a tendency to take you further than you intended to go and keep you longer than you intended to stay. As a result, the guilt and shame you carry convinces you that God’s grace is good enough for everyone except you.
So what do you do when you feel that there’s no way out?
- Own Your Mistake – Stop blaming your actions on circumstances, other people, etc. It was you that made the choice. Being honest with yourself is the first step to freedom. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).
- Change Directions – In the church world, we refer to this as repentance (turning away). You’ve probably heard it said 100 times, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting different result.” If you want different results, you’ve gotta do things differently. Stop running towards selfish desires and start running to Jesus. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19).
- Make Amends – This is the hard part where you put your ego aside and begin seeking forgiveness with those you have wronged (i.e. God, friends, family, etc.). Seeking forgiveness and granting forgiveness may or may not change the other person, but it will always change you. “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering” (Matthew 5:23-24).
- Start Over – You can’t undo what’s already been done, but you can make the decision to start over. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:17-21).