|Vol. 13 No. 12 December 2011||
Robert D. Rawson
There is an element of rule involved in the eldership’s work of the Lord, and there is to be respect given by the brethren (Hebrews 13:17). Such rulership is to be understood much as the wife is to be submissive to her husband (Ephesians 5:25-28). There is to be such love that working together for the common good is desired over and above any personal decision or will. Warning is given by Peter of the ‘lording over God’s Heritage’ (1 Peter 5:1-4).
The use of grievous words can be used to lord over others (Proverbs 15:1). We are not to use grievous words that stir up anger. Thoughts can result in a special look of the eyes and face, which is evil (Deuteronomy 15:9). Mannerism of walk and folding of the arms can result in evil (Deuteronomy 31:29). Divine instruction warns to avoid being around angry people (Proverbs 22:24-25). There are those who are quick to get angry (Proverbs 14:17), yet sometimes such men are found in the eldership of the church.
I know these verses are in the Old Testament. Believe me, there are corresponding verses in the New Testament, and such words as “as Christ loved the church and gave himself for her” (Ephesians 5:25) show us the true manners of the loving Savior and loving Shepherds, too. Discouragement is a plague of many homes and congregations. Who is spreading such a plague? Does this come from the membership and rise up to the leadership of the church, or is it coming from the leadership’s failure to encourage the congregation?
The leading of the flock away from the ghosts of fear and doubt must be done by good, godly elders. The eldership needs to have the vision to see the dangers faced by brethren and address those dangers with discussions in Bible classes, bringing in capable, outside teachers or preachers who address the needs of the hour and by writing timely articles that are filled with encouragement. The brethren can be reminded of the Lord’s promises (Matthew 28:20; Romans 8:28) that He is with us and all things will work together for our good. Yes, it is often in the eyes, hands and attitudes displayed by church rulers that provoke us to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24).
The Bible tells of men who questioned God. It tells us of those who thought God was unfair or too demanding. They had to determine to let God be God. They had to let God have His way. The Bible also gives us examples of those who were able to come to an understanding of God’s ways.
As we deal with life and its challenges, we are often baffled by what comes our way. Faithful Job, for example, suffered great loss and temptation. He could not understand why the righteous should have to suffer. For him that was a real problem. Was it right for God to allow him to be put to the test? If God is good, why did He allow all the bad stuff to happen to Job? Job asked for answers, and God obliged.
The prophet Habakkuk was troubled by what he thought was God’s injustice in judging man. God’s people were violating God’s laws and getting away with it, or so it seemed to Habakkuk. They were not being punished as Habakkuk thought they should. They thumbed their noses at justice and right doing. Habakkuk pleaded with God for judgment. He called upon the Lord for vindication of God’s name. However, when God promised punishment, Habakkuk was not happy that the Lord was going to use a nation more wicked than his own to punish God’s people.
Jeremiah had a tough preaching job. God wanted him to take His Word to a hardheaded, impenitent people. God had him proclaim a message that got Jeremiah in trouble. Jeremiah wanted to quit preaching because there were no positive responses. Yet, God would not let him quit proclaiming His Word.
Each of these great men voiced his feelings and questioned God. Nevertheless, they did this with faith and trust in God. If these men questioned God, it was not to assert themselves, but it was to get answers. It was not even an option to give up on God. They did what they did to draw nearer to God that they might understand His plan for them.
It seems evident in the end that each one was not doing this for any reason other than to learn God’s way and to conform to it. Remember Romans 8:28.