|Vol. 1, No. 5||Page 5||May 1999|
Guard Dog or Vicious Cur?
The vicious cur has entirely different characteristics. The task that he sets for himself is not noble. He employs no judgement in confrontations. He does not care who a stranger is. He does not care if the stranger is a threat; he simply attacks. He may attack because he does not like the stranger. He may attack because he is in a bad mood. His actions are not held in check by obedience to a higher authority. He does not serve a master, rather he serves himself.
When one is on the attack, motivation and purpose are of utmost importance. This is especially true when Christians are on the attack. If we defend the Gospel with love in our hearts and actively attack doctrinal error, we are justified. If we attack brethren because we do not like them or we are in a bad mood or we want to make a name for ourselves we are sinners. I fear that SOME brethren have forgotten these things.
In many of our brotherhood publications error is corrected and the truth is taught in a firm, yet loving manner. Many writers are clearly concerned for the souls of men. This is as it should be. But SOME brethren are obviously concerned with other things, and it shows. We often see bitterness, animosity and arrogance in the writings of men who preach against these very things. Men, who may be right on a particular issue, become wrong when they approach their brethren with any attitude short of godliness. How many sermons have been preached from Acts 15:35-40? Paul and Barnabus disagreed. Barnabus wanted to take John Mark on their journey and Paul did not wish for him to go. The disagreement was so strong that Paul and Barnabus parted ways. Among other things, we teach from this passage how men ought to behave when they disagree on matters of opinion. Men can disagree on matters of opinion and maintain godly conduct. Isnít that what we teach? But if something this minor were to happen among prominent brethren today, how many scathing articles would be written about one or the other of these brethren by men who were not even there and who do not have all of the facts? How many characters would be assassinated through the verbal grapevine? "Well, Iím not talking about him, BUT Paul always did try to run the show. I fully support Brother Barnabus and am glad someone finally stood up to Paul." It sounds silly, doesnít it? But that is how petty some of our attacks are. We have BRETHREN who seem to be waiting and hoping they can find something, anything to fight about. If they cannot find a doctrinal issue, they will settle for opinion. This attitude and activity is far from a stand for the truth.
There are many times when doctrinal issues must be dealt with. When we are dealing with doctrine, we must toe the line and hold it. But we must fight in a manner befitting children of God. Galatians 6:1 is another passage we often preach from. It says, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." This verse cannot be misunderstood. We do not find here or anywhere else in Godís Word justification for going to a fallen brother with name calling, glee, or arrogance. Elders are not immune; preachers are not immune; writers are not immune; editors are not immune. Yet, we see those among us who totally ignore this passage.
There are times when straying brethren will not repent. There are times when pointed conversations must take place. There are times when fellowship must be withdrawn. But we must do these things scripturally with hope of the right results. If a brother is in sin and we approach him, verbally or through writing, in an unscriptural manner, we are in sin, as well. Everyone concerned is wrong; we are just wrong for different reasons. We need to beware of those who speak and write with unscriptural attitudes.
Beware when a man uses the first half of an article to tell you how wonderful he is and the second half bashing those who do not agree with his opinions. Beware when a man displays unscriptural conduct while criticizing the conduct of others. Beware when a man attacks character rather than content.
Brethren, we need to take the acid
out of our writing. We can be effective in countering error and expressing
our opinions while maintaining dignity and godliness.