We live in a culture that is deteriorating partly because of its loss of a moral standard. Since its inception, Christianity has provided a true moral standard by promoting and being committed to the biblical principle of personal holiness. When it comes to the missionary and his ability to impact people with the message of the gospel, it is imperative that he maintain an enduring commitment to holiness.
The Holy Spirit led Paul to not mince words when he addressed the subject of demonstrating moral purity. The use of the terms “beseech” (I Thess. 4:1) and “exhort” illustrates the emotional and relational intensity that Paul employed in introducing his teaching on moral integrity. Complementing this specific teaching is Paul’s admonition to the believer to maintain integrity toward nonbelievers in all areas of life (vs. 12). Missionaries are as vulnerable to sexual temptation and lack of lifestyle integrity as anyone else. The truth is that missionaries often face special issues that make them more vulnerable to such temptations. All of these issues are the result of living in an often distant and unfamiliar environment on the mission field. Missionaries often experience emotional loneliness, relational anonymity, and unmet emotional needs on levels that not many believers face. Much of this is the result of the loss of personal and relational support systems such as family, friends, and church. Moreover, the unique stresses of ministering on the mission field for extended periods of time often undermine the missionary’s ability to resist sexual temptation.
An extremely dangerous aspect of this issue is the fact that many missionaries do not even consider that they are susceptible to the temptations of impurity and loss of integrity. They believe that these temptations are unthinkable because they have been called by God to spread His eternal Word. Missionaries must face the fact that everyone is vulnerable to temptation.
Missionaries must also understand and process the powerful dynamics of sexual temptation. First, any act of sexual sin is the logical result of long-term life patterns of giving in to temptation because we have not guarded our hearts. Second, our heart’s capacity for self-deceit is virtually limitless. Finally, the temptation to commit sexual sin may be the most powerful temptation missionaries will ever face, for it goes to the core of our being created as sexual beings.
Missionaries must be encouraged to develop a strategy for remaining morally pure. First, missionaries must embrace their vulnerability to sexual sin. Second, they must make a commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ to live a life of personal holiness and integrity. It would be beneficial for this commitment to be written down and referred to on a daily basis.
Next, even in the midst of intense ministry activity, the missionary must study, memorize, and apply scriptural principles to his or her life. Finally, the missionary must develop relationships of mutual accountability based on Hebrews 3:12-13 and James 5:16. Encourage a missionary this week with a note. Such support can help strengthen him against temptation.