After a stellar military career, serving as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and widely held to be a formidable future candidate for high political office, it all came to an abrupt end last Thursday for General David Petraeus. As a result of the disclosure of an extramarital affair, Petraeus resigned his position as CIA director. Since the time of his resignation, much has been learned and more will be learned as to the possible wide ranging implications of his indiscretion. Those are important issues, but they are not the interest here. We often put people on a pedestal, believing that they are above reproach. By all accounts, General Petraeus was one of those people. I’m sure that over the years many have benefited from working under his leadership. I imagine many of the lessons he has taught have been invaluable to others. Perhaps he’ll have an opportunity to teach those lessons again. But David Petraeus has a valuable lesson to teach right now. He happens to be the latest example of a high profile and powerful person committing a moral failure that should serve as a warning to all of us. This lesson doesn’t have to wait. Hopefully we can learn from it.
You see, David Petraeus is susceptible to what all of us are; sin. You may find it easy to think that he got exactly what he deserved, but before you do, consider what it is you and I deserve. We weren’t owed the forgiveness God gave us, but He gave it anyway. We are not even owed the grace for today’s sins, but He gives that as well. Certainly our media’s focus will be the “soap opera” aspects of this story. And our political leaders will seek out answers to any potential national security violations and what lessons may be learned if they in fact occurred. But for us, there are lessons as well. What happened in the case of David Petraeus should be a reminder of the human’s susceptibility to sin. That is the first lesson. The truth is that if not for God’s grace, you or I could do the same. When we look at the general’s situation and think that what happened to him could never happen to us is when we’re vulnerable. We are capable of sin every bit as great as his. That leads to a second lesson, our need to seek God daily in His Word and pray for the power and presence of the Holy Spirit to keep us from temptation and sin. We have to put on “the whole armor of God” (Ephesians 6:11). Lastly, instead of condemning General Petraeus for his sin, pray for him and his family who have to live the consequences of that sin. Why is it our tendency to sometimes find other people’s sins a much greater offense to God than our own? To wish grace for General Petraeus doesn’t condone what he did, nor does it mean there aren’t consequences. There already have been and there will be more that you and I will never know. Ultimately though, we need to remember that all battles are spiritual. General David Petraeus lost this one. He put on the wrong armor. What about you? Are you fit for the fight? Have you put on His armor? If not, you need to.