And when he went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, “Why are you striking your companion?’ But he said, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian?”
This man must have been one of the earliest to learn that a good way to answer difficult questions is with another question. And he does. His pointed question to Moses may as well have been, “Who died and made you the boss over us?” Good question. But Moses did not have enough time to reflect on his answer. The aggressor went on to enquire as to whether Moses was intending to kill him as he had killed the Egyptian the day before. Wow. He simply wanted harmony among his brethren and was acting as a peacemaker, but clearly his recent history preceded him.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, we need to understand that our history does precede us. One cannot have been convicted of being a child abuser and then attempt to apply for a job in an orphanage. One cannot commit perjury as a lawyer and then apply to be a judge in our judicial systems. If you follow any national elections, you will be aware that both the media and one’s opponent are out to discredit a person who claims one thing and does or has done another. And so on.
And that leads us very nicely to the issue of forgiveness when it comes to past sin. If the world is not prepared to forgive one his/her past and evil men will use it to their advantage against the individual, is the Church capable of something better? Does a young pastor who committed adultery in his early years of service; has admitted his falling before others and sin before God; sought and received the forgiveness of his spouse and family; taken ‘time out’ from ministry to rethink his commitment to God and His work; been blessed since; and not sinned in a similar fashion for half a decade – is such a pastor required to bring the whole thing up again when applying for a new pastoral position? Of course, there are pros and cons no matter what answer one gives to the question. Yes, it would be nice if the pastor admits his past so that the church is not surprised later when someone who knew exposes him. But if he does, will he still get the job? Are we big enough for that yet? If he does not share his past, and someone exposes him later, will the church understand why he felt he did not need to share his past at the time of his application (he believed his wife’s, family’s and God’s forgiveness were sufficient) and then forgive him for what had happened years ago? Will they realize that the party doing the exposing at this point was not necessarily pursuing God’s will in the matter? Or will they fire him on the spot?
I can only surmise how difficult a situation we put some of our men and women who serve God in when we ourselves are not sinless or able to cast the first stone. Yet, many an individual is kept from pursuing his/her renewed service to God in a particular manner because of our inability to forgive. That individual, should he/she not blame God for his/her maltreatment by the Church, often goes on to be blessed greatly by his/her Heavenly Father. It is us, the ‘unforgivers’, the ‘holier than thou’, that often come out the losers.
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