A couple of years ago I had the pleasure of attending a lecture on Christian leadership given by one of my heroes. The schedule had intentionally called for a long session to allow for question and answer feedback and I was attentively listening, absorbing, and writing throughout. Then somewhere near the end something happened.
Someone in the crowd asked something akin to, “How do you handle a situation that might place you alone with a woman who is not your wife?” I was pretty certain how the speaker would respond. It is common practice among ministers not to be alone with another woman, but then the lecturer elaborated on a personal story.
One cold day he was driving in the rain and came across a woman walking in the downpour without an umbrella. Immediately his heart was provoked into offering this sodden pedestrian a place in his warm, dry vehicle; but he did not. The reasoning he gave I still remember word for word, “I could not afford to put myself in that situation.” While I am an avid practitioner of not allowing myself to be compromised through unnecessary situations, this was something altogether different.
What I see in this scenario is a conflict of differing natures: not the rain versus the driver or the woman. I’m talking about the desire of the driver to assist the pedestrian as prompted by God versus his hesitance as a result of what someone might think about him by having a strange woman in his car.
It boils down to this. He would not pick her up because he had too much to lose. Job, reputation, whatever you want to call it… the potential opinions of men trumped his willingness to do the right thing.
James wrote that when we know the right thing to do and we don’t do it we have sinned. (James 4:17) Protecting the opinions of men will never be the right thing to do when compared to showing the love of God.
Even when doing the right thing means that you must lose everything you have, be it relationships, reputation, or riches, it is what we are called to do. We won’t always succeed, but we must always try.
For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. Matthew 16:25