The Wooden Leg Theory

Don’t Copy the Flaws of Others

Have you ever been disappointed as you learned the faults of great Christians? When you discover the flaws in a well-known Christian leader, are you tempted to discount the truths they have preached? I think all Christians go through struggles of this nature. I have been helped by a little theory which I call the “Wooden Leg Theory.”

Suppose I go to the track, meet and watch from high in the stands as a young man wins the hundred yard dash in ten seconds flat. I cheer for him. I am so impressed that I walk down from the stands to congratulate him. As I get close, I discover that he has an artificial leg. Is my response, “Well, I’m not cheering for you anymore; you’ve got a wooden leg. Here I thought everything about you was as it should be, and now I find you have a handicap.” Of course not.

My response would be, “Wow! It’s amazing that you ran the race you did with the handicap you have!” It is important to note, however, that I would not cut off my leg. Cutting my leg off would do nothing to enhance me as I run the race.

Likewise, if I discover a problem in the life of a well-known Christian, I do not imitate it. Many people I know excuse their failures by pointing to great men who have had similar failures. If you live like that, you’ll become a collection of the worst attributes of the best men in the world.

Neither do I fail to appreciate the greatness of the man once I discover his flaw. I determine that he must have some tremendous offsetting strengths to run that kind of a race with that kind of a handicap.

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