I often hear people ask if there is any guiding rule from the Bible or verses to help Christians differentiate between true gospel artistes from those aiming to gain material possessions or money. Others have asked similar questions relating to which church can best be described as God's true church or whether today's church leaders can be described as genuine Christians who can be trusted by their flock to teach them the word of God.
Frankly speaking, I can't figure out why people should preoccupy themselves with trying to question church leaders' or other people's spiritual standing before God, or even be worried to know if their denominational groupings or churches preach the truth about the word of God.
If anything, the Bible is clear on such issues especially in Isaiah 8:20 where it says anything preached about the word of God should be according to scriptures, otherwise it amounts to mere church doctrines or lies.
"To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them," Isaiah 8:20 (King James Version).
On the same point, the Bible is against the habit of judging other people on the basis of their ungodly behaviour since this does not have any bearing on one's salvation.
"Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven" (Luke 6:37.)
Having said this, the Bible explains further in other verses where it says all humans have sinned before God which also means humankind cannot be compared to God's angels who exist in complete holiness.
"As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one" (Romans 3:10 (KJV).
"For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not" (Ecclesiastes 7:20 (KJV).
From this it is clear that when it comes to gospel artistes, there is no reason to expect characteristics of absolute holiness from them since they are ordinary humans who sin and occasionally require God's forgiveness.
And being Bible-believing Christians, gospel artistes should also be free to use their artistic skills and creativity to preach the word of God.
I believe one of the blessings Christians enjoy in Zimbabwe is that they are free to study the Bible on their own and as such have room to measure the truth of any gospel message they receive before choosing to either accept or reject it.
In Zimbabwe and the world over, gospel artistes have in numerous occasions attracted a lot of unwarranted criticism from the media and other believers due to some of their unChristian conduct.
Some people have also expressed shock on reading news of how some gospel musicians confessed to practising homosexuality, addiction to pornography, drugs and alcohol and other unChristian forms of behaviour.
Among artistes who quickly come to mind are South African gospel musician Lundi Tyamara, who reportedly confessed to being gay, and gospel musician Rebecca Malope who was believed to use performance enhancing drugs during her stage performances.
In Zimbabwe, we have heard of artistes like Amos Mahendere, who recently made headlines for assaulting a man with a pistol before living him injured in a street brawl.
Other gospel artistes who attracted negative media attention in the past include Pastor Haisa, Ivy Kombo-Kasi and Olinda Marowa among others.
Having noted how every human is prone to sinning, it becomes important for Christians to be more sensitive to gospel messages preached to them and at the same time study the Bible on their own in order to gain more knowledge of the word of God.