Is it right to call out a spiritual leader on account of his or her sin? The Apostle Paul did. Ananias, the Jewish high priest who presided over Paul’s trial in Jerusalem, commanded a few bystanders to strike Paul in the mouth after he declared his innocence before the council. Paul countered by boldly stating, “God shall smite thee, thou whited wall: for sittest thou to judge me after the law, and commandest me to be smitten contrary to the law?” (Acts 23:3)
Someone mentioned that Paul had spoken against the high priest. Paul responded, “I wist not, brethren, that he was the high priest . . .” (Acts 23:5a). If he had known the judge was the high priest, then he might have responded in a different way. Nevertheless, Paul felt his anger was warranted because whoever the man was, his conduct did not befit his office. (The judge in court was appointed to uphold the law, but striking a suspect was against the law.) He decried the high priest’s hypocritical actions rather than his office.
But before we apply this approach to spiritual leaders whom we know have gone astray, let’s take notes from Paul’s experience. 1. He was honest; 2. He was respectful; and 3. He was wise. He spoke the truth, but he knew when to exercise restraint. This is a fine balance which must be maintained at all times. Every stand should be taken in the spirit of wisdom, love, and humility.
What would you do if you saw your worship leader making a moral compromise? How would you respond if your Sunday School teacher told you to do something which contradicted Scripture, or you saw a deacon or elder knowingly violate church guidelines in a situation? Would you sit down and ignore it, or stand up and address it? Maybe you can pray this prayer: “Lord, I want to do what is right. Please give me the courage to stand up and speak out when I need to and the wisdom to do it in a way which honors You.”
Devotional by Pastor Jim Scudder, Jr.