by: Allen Domelle
A pastor up in the Northeast asked me if I wanted to go have steak after the Sunday morning service. Asking me if I want steak is like asking a child if they want candy. Of course I wanted to have steak, I love steak! After the morning services, he took me to a steak house that is only located in that region of the country. I was so looking forward to having a steak. The waitress took our order and then told us it would be a few minutes. Finally, the waitress brought our steaks to the table. The juices in my mouth were just exploding with the anticipation of biting down into a delicious steak. After prayer, I cut into my steak and took a bite. To my dismay, the steak was horrible. It was like eating raw leather. The steak was tough, and it was cooked way too long. The vegetables that came with the steak were stale. It was a horrible meal! I promised myself that I would never again go back to that chain restaurant.
Several months later, I was out soul winning and I knocked on the door of a very kind young lady. I introduced myself and my soul winning partner and told her what church we were representing. As I talked to her to break the ice before asking her the all important question about her salvation, I asked her where she worked. She told me that she was a manager at a restaurant. I asked her which restaurant, and her response was that she was a manager of the chain steak house that I had promised myself I would never go to again. Apparently, the look on my face said it all. She looked at me and asked me if I had a problem with the steak house. I then proceeded to tell her about the previous experience I had in that chain restaurant, and I told her about my promise to never go back again.
After I gave her my reasoning for disliking for that restaurant chain, she looked at me and said, “Oh, I get it. You had one bad experience in one of our restaurants, and so you are going to hold it against all of our restaurants.” She then said, “How would you like it if I chose not to go to any Baptist church because I had a bad experience in one Baptist church?” She said, “Does one bad experience in a Baptist church make all Baptist churches bad?” I thought to myself, who is this woman? I came to tell her how to get saved, and now she is preaching a sermon to me. I thought, who does she think she is? However, this dear lady was exactly right. I was letting one bad experience in one restaurant cause me to hold the rest of the restaurants hostage in my mind. I let one bad experience cause me to think that they were all bad. I have since been back to the restaurant and have had some very good steaks.
Sadly, God has become the bad guy for many Christians. I’m am constantly amazed at how many Christians allow a bad experience by sinful Christians to cause them to take it out on God. Their excuse for not going to church or continuing in the ministry is the sin of another Christian. Preachers children oftentimes will quit church when they are out of their parent’s house because of how the ministry supposedly treated their parents wrong, or because their parent’s never gave them the time they thought they deserved. It is truly amazing how God has become the bad guy for people when God was not the One Who did them wrong, man was.
I recently heard about a man who had a bad experience on a church staff. According to him, a church where he used to work treated him wrong. He said that the pastor for whom he worked didn’t treat he or his family right, so he was no longer going to serve the LORD full-time because of the pastor. It is interesting that God wasn’t the One Who treated him wrong, but a man who held a pastoral position treated him wrong. Yet, God became the bad guy in this man’s mind.
There is another person who used to work on staff that found out that the pastor was being dishonest in how he paid his staff. This pastor made sure that his family got paid more than all the other staff members. Even if this pastor’s family didn’t do as much as the others, his family still got paid more than anyone else. Yet, everyone else on the staff had to work second jobs just to pay their bills. This person vowed that they would never again work full-time in the ministry because of the treatment of this pastor. Again, God became the bad guy to this man. Yet, it wasn’t God who signed the paychecks it was that pastor, but because one person treated them wrong they were going to hold God hostage for man’s actions.
These are just a couple of stories, but it happens over and over again. God is held accountable for man’s actions. Someone had one bad experience in an independent, fundamental Baptist church, so in their mind they are all bad. A few preachers fall into sin in the independent, fundamental Baptist movement, so now all the preachers are bad because of the actions of a few.
It is amazing how God becomes the bad guy in all of these instances. It is amazing how they want to blame God’s standard for holiness, or some movement for all of the sin that is involved when they should be holding the sin accountable for their hard feelings. Instead of holding every church and pastor accountable, why don’t you hold the sin accountable? God was not the One Who made that person sin. The independent Baptist movement is not the one who caused people to be mistreated. A church is not the one who caused a pastor or staff member to fall into sin. Instead of putting God, His church and representatives in the lineup to point out as the one who committed the crime that hurt you, why don’t you hold the sin accountable? Why don’t you hold adultery as the crime against you? Why don’t you hold pride as the crime against you? Why don’t you take your anger out on pornography instead of on all those who hold a ministry position? Why don’t you get angry at injustice or selfishness instead of holding full-time service as the bad guy? Why don’t you get upset at the sin of gossip and backbiting instead of dropping completely out of church because your parents were mistreated in the ministry? GOD IS NOT THE BAD GUY! Sin is what you should be upset with, and not God.
Let me ask you, has God ever done you wrong? Has God ever personally attacked you or your parents? Has God ever told someone not to pay you right? Has God ever not supplied your needs? Has God’s standard of holiness ever caused one person to fall into sin? Absolutely not! It is sin that is the bad guy. It is sin that you should put on trial. It is the Devil with whom you should have a problem. Instead of using your energies to fight God and all that represents Him, you should use your energies to fight the sin that has hurt you. You should use your energies to fight adultery, injustice, gossip, backbiting, lust, fornication, etc. Sin is what caused the hurt in your life, not God. There are several things you need to keep in mind.
1. The goodness of God is continuous.
God is good, and He is good all the time. Psalm 52:1 says, “Why boastest thou thyself in mischief, O mighty man? the goodness of God endureth continually.” We often overlook God’s goodness, but why would you reward God’s goodness to you by turning on Him? God gave you eyes to see, ears to hear, a mouth to speak and feet to walk. God has been so good to you to give you air to breathe, a home to live in, a Bible to read and a family that loves you. God has been good enough to give you salvation. I ask you, why would you turn on God when He has been so good to you? God’s goodness is continuous. It was not God who hurt you, but sin and those yielding to temptation are the ones who hurt you. Don’t make God the bad guy when He has only been good to you.
2. God gives man a free choice.
God gave others the free choice and they chose wrong just like He gives you a free choice and does not force you to do what He wants you to do. Revelation 22:17 says, “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” The greatest word in the Scriptures is the word, “whosoever.” That means that God gives us a free choice to choose. Just like God gave Adam and Eve a free choice in the Garden of Eden, He also gave you a free choice to choose what you want to do. Unfortunately, that free choice was abused by sinful humans. Don’t make God the bad guy because he gave someone a free choice and they used it wrongly. Our problem is we want God to force others to do right when it affects us, but we don’t want God to force us to do right when it affects others. You can’t have it both ways. God gives us all a free choice, it is simply that some have abused it. We must be careful that we don’t make God the bad guy because of another’s poor choice.
3. Holiness is not what causes sin.
One of the things that is commonly thrown at those who defend truth and holiness is that standards run people off. My response to those who say this is that God did not change the standard of holiness in Heaven because Lucifer did wrong. Lucifer lived in a place where standards were of the utmost highest, but God did not lower His standards of holiness just because one-third of the angels fell. The standards of holiness were not the problem, the problem was the heart. When someone chooses to sin, it has nothing to do with the standards of holiness, but it has everything to do with the heart. Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Don’t hold God as a bad guy just because he has a high standard of holiness. Holiness never caused one person to sin, but they chose to sin. Don’t attack God’s standard of holiness just because one person who supposedly preached those standards ended up falling or hurting you.
4. Quitting God will not make things better.
God gave Israel a choice in Deuteronomy 30:19 when He says, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:” You will notice that if they chose to quit on God things would not get better. Likewise, things will not change for the better if you choose to quit on God. I can certainly understand the hurt that comes when someone has wronged you, but don’t take it out on God and quit serving Him. He is not the bad guy, the bad guy is sin.
5. Don’t use another’s sin to hide your rebelliousness.
It is very easy to use another’s sin as your excuse to quit the ministry or to stop standing for the old paths, but that would only be a cover up for your own rebelliousness. Adam tried to cover his sin of rebellion by blaming it on his wife, but that was still no excuse for his choice to sin against God. Friend, you can say you will no longer serve God in the ministry or quit church because of what others have done to you, but that is only a smoke screen to cover your own rebellion. I have personally been on the bad end of another’s sin, but I have still continued to serve the LORD. You are not the only one who has had a leader you admire fall, but don’t use it as your excuse to put God in the lineup with the bad guys. If you choose to quit because of another’s sin, it is only revealing your own rebelliousness.
6. Use your energy to help others not to experience the same hurt.
The greatest thing you can do with the hurt you have experienced because of another’s sin is to use your energies to prevent others from experiencing the same hurt. Use your energies to fight the sin that caused the hurt and don’t use your energies to fight those who are fighting the sin that causes the hurt. In 1 Samuel 13:19, Saul and Jonathan were the only ones who had a sword in their hand to fight the enemy, so Saul determined that would never happen again and he trained the men of Israel how to sharpen their own swords. The hurt of sin can either cause you to make God the bad guy, or it can motivate you to be sure others will never go through the same experience by fighting the sin that caused your hurt.
7. Realize that God allowed it so good would prevail.
The greatest thing you can learn from hurt is that God allowed it so good would eventually prevail. Joseph said in Genesis 50:20, “But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.” Though Joseph did not completely understand the hurt while he was enduring it, he did understand that God would be sure to make good come out of it. Friend, if you won’t make God the bad guy because of your hurts, then you will eventually see that God will make good come out of it. Don’t hold it against God, but keep serving Him and let good come out of your hurt.
It all comes down to what you choose to do. Are you going to put God in the lineup and point to Him as the cause of your hurt, or are you going to point to sin as the cause of hurt? Don’t put God on trial. Don’t make God the bad guy because sinners did you wrong. Use the hurt you have experienced as a tool to help others who have faced the same hurt. Point them to Jesus Christ Who can help place the balm of Gilead on their hurts. It is time you let God do what He wants to do in your life and get back to whatever He has called you to do. The only one who wins when you make God the bad guy is the very sin that caused the hurt. Don’t let sin win twice. It may have won one battle, but you need to be sure it loses the war in your life by continually doing what the LORD called you to do. Put sin in the lineup and point it out to everyone so you can to let them know that sin is the bad guy, and not God.
Allen Domelle is the editor of the Old Paths Journal which is more than just a Christian’s publication. It is an excellent place to learn how today’s headlines will forge tomorrow’s laws and statutes. Keep yourself in tune with what is happening around the world, as well as in your own backyard with our daily updates and devotionals.