Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Integrity of Moses: Humiliation and Exaltation

Here's an interesting sermonic illustration.

Moses 'strikes' an Egyptian and then a day later harps on a Hebrew offender for 'striking' a fellow Hebrew. In a sense it is the classic pot calling the kettle black. You sinned too who are you to judge me.

Interestingly, we have a fairly recent illustration of this type of behavior. Governor Mark Sanford has spoken of the need for integrity and for honest in politics. For this reason he needs to resign. Consider this article which makes a case based on ten points. In particular:

3. If he clings onto power, he’s guilty of hypocrisy. Yes, we all have personal failings and we all on occasions do not live up to the principles we proclaim. But during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Sanford branded Bill Clinton a “rascal” and said: “I think it would be much better for the country and for him personally [to resign]… I come from the business side,” he said. “If you had a chairman or president in the business world facing these allegations, he’d be gone.”...

5. Moral character matters. Sanford himself said as much, stating that politicians should lead by example: ‘The bottom line in politics is, I think, at the end of the day to be effective in standing for both the convictions that drove you into office and the principles that you outlined in running. And that is not restrained to simply the world of Caesar, it applies to what you think is right and wrong and everything in between.”

I tend to agree that there is a difference between moral inconsistency and hypocrisy. I do believe that Governor Sanford had a grave moral failing, e.g. a sin. But what will determine whether or not he is a hypocrite will be whether he applies the same judgment to himself that he applied to others. I am not arguing whether or not every politician who has an affair should resign. What I am arguing is that based on Sanford previously stated convictions if he does not apply them to his own behavior then he fails to apply his own standards against himself. It shows a favoritism in his judgments, namely he favors himself. One could argue this would merely be another 'moral inconsistency' an not necessarily hypocrisy but the larger issue is whether or not there is true repentance followed by acceptance of consequence. This will demonstrate whether or not he really believes such things are necessary. If he prosecutes his standards differently on himself than on others not only has he lowered his standards but he shows in practice his standards for himself other than what he professes them to be when it comes to others. If he does not apply his rebukes to himself he shows it was just about attacking 'them there liberals'. If he is only acting about his standards when it comes to others and not to himself then he is a hypocrite. (According to this news story, he is not going to resign).

Moses' motives may have been to deliver Israel (Acts 7:24-25) but he failed to abide by God's moral law and then he rebuke others for it. He lost credibility. He had no right to judge others unless he first wrestled with his own guilt before God (cf. Exodus 3 & 4 esp. 4:24-26). The reality is Moses killed the Egyptian because it was expedient not because it was necessary and it destroyed his credibility with his people. He attempt to exalt himself in order to be their deliverer actually ended up in his humiliation. He would have to humble himself and what for God to exalt him.

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