Have you ever done something you believed was the “last straw” with God? Have you ever felt like you’ve, finally – once and for all – ruined your life?
NOTE: A follow-up to my message a couple of weeks ago about the Cross’s power over shame.
Tullian pastored a large church in south Florida and was a rising star in the church world, reaching almost celebrity status. Handsome, a gifted speaker and author, and possessing an engaging personality, he forgot how quickly a man can stray off course and slowly fell into Satan’s trap. (“Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.” – 1 Corinthians 10:12)
Over time, Tchividjian grew more and more blind to the moral danger awaiting us all when pride tightens its grip, giving us a false sense of invincibility. As a result, he, like so many before him, was easily lured by the enemy into moral failure.
In 2015, he was removed from his church after getting caught in an affair.
He lost his ministry and his marriage.
Below is something Tchividjian wrote not as the celebrity-status-pastor he once was, but as a broken man. It is powerful.
*Tullian’s note begins here*:
In a season of sin and self-destruction back in 2015, I lost everything and hurt many people in the process. At 41 years old, I broke my life, I broke my family, and I broke the hearts of those who trusted me and looked to me for leadership.
Through heaving tears of sorrow and shame, regret and remorse, I sent this note to a friend of mine the night my granddad (Billy Graham) died two years ago today:
“Watching my grandfather’s life, it has hit me afresh just how selfish and arrogant I was, how much I squandered. And for what? FOR WHAT?? What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul? Character matters. It does not gain us favor with God, but it does give us credibility with others so that we can deliver God’s favor to the world. I blew it. I’m undone.”
My friend responded with six words: “There was a man named David…”
I lost it.
My friend had the perfect words at just the right time. It was the powerful and comforting reminder I needed at that moment that God loves and uses people who fail because people who fail are all that there are. Maybe you need that reminder too.
Yes, “There was a man named David…” But even more powerful and comforting is the good news that there is a man named Jesus.
Unlike my grandfather, I soiled my record. Regardless of how I live my life from now until the day I die, my season of sinful self-destruction will always be remembered and talked about. The hurt I caused myself and countless others will linger in many hearts and cause some people to doubt me, disparage me, and distrust me for the rest of my days. I’ve accepted that my blemished reputation is here to stay. There is no going back.
But I believe that if Daddy Bill (Billy Graham) were still alive, he’d say something like this to me:
“Tullian, I may not be guilty externally of the same sins you are, but I assure you that my heart is no less sinful than yours. According to God’s standard of perfection, I’m a failure just like you. Your sin speak to what people saw. But the Gospel speaks to what only God sees. All of our records are stained with sin. But the good news of the Gospel is that Jesus’ perfect record is ours by faith. When God looks at our account, He doesn’t see all of our nasty withdrawals. Rather, he sees all of Christ’s perfect deposits. In fact, the Bible makes it clear that because of Jesus, the sins we can’t forget, God chooses not to remember. So take heart failed one, before God the righteousness of Christ is all any of us need. Before God, the righteousness of Christ is all any of us have.”
That righteousness, that gift of God, speaks louder than any voice of accusation. I may have a blemished reputation, but not in the eyes of God. When my Father sees me—and when he sees you—he sees someone who looks just like Jesus, the unblemished Lamb of God.
*Tullian’s note ends here*.
The idiom, “the last straw,” comes from the longer idiom, “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” Simply put, at some point the camel is going to break under a given amount of weight. It’s inevitable.
But, the sin of the entire world couldn’t break Jesus’ back. Not then. Not now.
Jesus is whispering to you, “I’ve got this. Trust me.”
Soli Deo Gloria, Nick