I am indebted to Pastor George McDearmon who first shared this story with me.
If you were to tour the Saratoga National Historical Park in Upstate NY, you would find a profoundly sad monument. The monument is that of an empty boot. On the back of the monument we are told that it was raised in honor of a ‘most brilliant solider’ of the Continental Army. That ‘brilliant solider’ was wounded in aiding the victory of the Continental Army against the British in the Battle of Saratoga. The brilliant soldier, wounded in the foot, was the hero of that particular day. But there is a reason why his name is left off the monument. That hero became a traitor. In fact, he became the most famous traitor in American history. The named Benedict Arnold is not remembered today because of what he did on the battlefield of Saratoga. Many who know his name do not know of his past heroic exploits. Those brave deeds have been covered by his treachery. There are pastors and well known professing believers of the past who have left their mark on their churches for good and ill. Many who were once useful heroes to the people of God are remembered, not for their saintly service, but rather for their scandalous sin. The evil that they have done, the betrayal they have leveled against their Savior and His people is what is called to mind when their names are uttered. That they may have done genuine good in the past is not the issue. Shepherds of the flock have an unusual power to do good or to do evil. We may influence many, but most of us will only impactonly a few. The issue is not numbers. How will we be remembered? What legacy will we leave behind? The daily necessity of keeping the heart, of taking heed to ourselves and our doctrine will determine at the end of day the longevity of the good that we do. May God remove us before we become an empty boot.