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Saying that you'll never do something because of another person's moral failure is the first step towards this perilous place.
Saying that you'll never do something because of another person's moral failure is the first step toward this perilous place. (Kaci Baum)

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A Christian reality TV star turned pro-family activist admits to adultery.

A prominent megachurch pastor is fired due to long-term self-exalting and manipulative behavior.

A middle school teacher is accused of molesting a child she is hired to protect.

The rest of us? We look on. We shake our heads in disgust, spit out our enraged social media rants. And whether out loud or in our hearts, we presume these three little words:

"I would never."

And in that moment, we are sunk because we already have.

Like a Tower Built in a Pit

Why? Why is it so easy for me to look out from the ivory tower of my (self-perceived) impeccable morality and see so clearly the gaping pits into which Activist A, Pastor B and Teacher C have stumbled? I am prone to say, "How could they be so careless, so stupid? Wasn't it obvious that these decisions were wrong? How could they let themselves get here in the first place?" I mean, is it really that hard?

My tower is pretty high. So high, in fact, that I'm oblivious to my immediate surroundings. My whitewashed fortress, this strong sense of righteousness that gets me through the day? It's built in a pit of my own, and I'm completely blind to it.

Scripture tells us that "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" (Jer. 17:9). When I attempt to identify my own areas of vulnerability, my pits, I'm pretty shortsighted because I gravitate toward the areas in which I clearly see my weakness:

  • I'm really impatient.
  • I'm so detail-oriented, I fail to see the big picture.
  • I can be ill-tempered and short with my family.

My weaknesses stink, and I recognize them, but rarely do I look to the area where, as a believer, I am most likely to stumble. I fail to see the pit of my strength.

A Double Weakness

A few weeks ago, I heard a message that drove this idea home to me like never before. Perhaps you've heard this Chinese proverb the pastor quoted: "An unguarded strength is a double weakness." He then went on to present a lineup of biblical examples—people whose perceived area of strength was exactly the area in which they fell. Think about it! Here are some of the examples given:

  • Abraham's great strength was obedience. Where did he fall? Obedience (Gen. 12:13, 16:2).
  • Noah's great attribute was discipline. Where did he fall? Discipline (Gen. 9:21).
  • Isaac's great asset was truth-telling. Where did he fall? Truth-telling (Gen. 26:7).
  • Moses' great strength was meekness. Where did he fall? Meekness (Num. 20:10-12).
  • David's great character trait was integrity. Where did he fall? Integrity (2 Sam. 11:3-27).
  • Elijah's great attribute was faith. Where did he fall? Faith (1 Kings 19:3-13).
  • Uzziah's great strength was adherence to God's Word. Where did he fall? Adherence to God's Word (2 Chr. 26:16-21).
  • Peter's great asset was courage. Where did he fall? Yup. Courage (Luke 22:34-62).

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