It happens with alarming, distressing regularity. And it hurts every time. It hurts every time we see a person we love or admire fall into a great sin or deny a precious doctrine. We are always left asking ourselves how it happened. What went wrong? How did we not see this coming? How did they not see this coming?
Every one of these situations is unique and uniquely complicated. And yet there is always an inevitable, terrible simplicity as well. These people failed to carry out a simple task. They failed to maintain an effective self-watch. When Paul wrote to Timothy he said, “keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching” — keep a close watch on how you behave and on what you believe. Though Paul spoke to Timothy as a pastor, these words apply to each and every Christian. Are you keeping a close watch?
Keep Watch on Your Life
Think of someone you know who committed one of those grave sins, the kind of sin that disqualified him from ministry or wrecked her home and marriage. Think, perhaps, about the person who was caught in an illicit affair. It’s not like this person just woke up one morning and said, “I think I’ll commit adultery today.” No, that sin was the result of a long relaxing of vigilance. He first allowed his eyes to wander, then allowed lustful thoughts to linger. She began to strike up conversations she knew she shouldn’t have, to go where she shouldn’t have gone, and to linger in the presence of someone she should have stayed away from. Over time these small actions prepared them for that big sin, primed them for that major fall. The sin was so unnecessary, so avoidable. But it became possible, it became inevitable, when they failed to keep a close watch on their behavior, on their life, on themselves.