Thursday, November 29, 2012

Petraeus, Pride and Protection

The General Petraeus scandal reminds me of the scandal of another military leader: “In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army….From the roof he saw a woman bathing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her.” My purpose isn’t to focus on General Petraeus but on the sin he committed. Know that I write both as one that has experienced the betrayal of adultery and as one that has committed sexual sin. I do not cast the first stone.

I can only imagine the pain, shame and embarrassment this has brought to all concerned especially wife and children. Beyond that it certainly has impacted many as the ripple circled out from the initial admission of guilt; those serving under the General as well as those that respected him. Like David’s sin it was a private act with far reaching consequences.

The text says that King David ‘sent Joab out.’ I wonder if General Petraeus also sent his leadership away that there would be no immediate accountability. I am certain that he has many serving with him that have his back in the field of battle and in daily public life. It is sad that there wasn’t someone there who had his back before his shirt was off.

It was pride that set him up for his fall just as it did for King David. Humility is our first protection from attacks of the flesh. Rather than send our friends away we need to open up our lives to them. We must be willing to be accountable. This means that they have the right to ask us how we are doing in the private areas of our life. We give them accessibility. We keep short accounts with our friends/or our accountability partners. When we screw up we admit it. Pride does not allow such open sharing of human frailty.

“Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her.” One has to go through many steps to maintain an adulterous affair. In the case of the King this eventually led to murder. I do not know all the steps Petraeus maintained but I suspect one at his level could manipulate much to hide much. At that point you have closed yourself off to the world to maintain your sin. How much easier it would have been to open yourself up to a few trustworthy men?

We are told that King David had a heart for God. The conclusion is easy to draw; if David could commit such a horrible sin so could I. In the grocery store magazine covers (like that of Time magazine) shout out the sad story of the General’s sin and fall. It should be warning to each of us (and not men only) that pride comes before a fall. David’s fall began in Spring but every season has its dangers. Let us stay humble and transparent that the enemy may not gain a foothold.

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.—Hebrews 3:12

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