I heard a story just this week of a pastoral search committee interviewing final candidates. They asked one qualified fellow, “Do you drink?” “Well, I have an occasional glass of wine with a meal.” One of the elders walked up to him, hit him in the chest with a Bible and said, “You better read this, son.” That elder can be a controlling, domineering menace and they will tolerate him for years because he can sure run a meeting. But catch him smoking in the parking lot and he’s gone by Monday. Friends—pride and arrogance are far more serious issues than swearing; idolatry and unbelief are far more deadly than smoking or drinking. This group is careful to clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they’re a haunted house. Trivial morality takes the severe beauty of holiness and makes it ridiculous.

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