24 September, 2007

A Word In Due Season

I received an email today from a friend with the following in it. He told me he found it on a blog somewhere but did not document where it came from. Whoever the author is, it is a Word spoken for my church at this moment... and I thank you!

Contending Is Not Contentiousness

There are some who have yet to learn the difference between contending for the faith and being contentious for the faith.
Contending for the faith is a balanced proclamation and defense of the fundamental elements of gospel truth, whereas contentiousness is a wrangling disposition that generates ill will over inconsequential matters.

Let us reflect upon the following points.

* Contending for the faith is not making laws for God.
There are those, generally termed “legalists,” who feel obligated to coerce others into accepting their peculiar opinions of the will of God in the absence of divine revelation. The Pharisees were of this class; they bound burdens upon others which they themselves ignored (Matthew 23:4). Their breed is not extinct.

* Contending for the faith is not to be equated with brutality.
Some know no method of teaching save the bludgeoning technique. They insult and degrade potential disciples. They feel that if they have not made someone angry, they really haven’t preached the truth. The “Watchtower Witnesses” frequently exhibit front-door rudeness, and then, when someone abruptly turns them away, they congratulate themselves upon the fact that they were persecuted for the cause of truth.
Though Christ was occasionally sharp with hypocritical leaders who should have known better than what they were doing, he was gentle and compassionate with honest inquirers, even though they were entrenched in sin (cf. Matthew 12:20).

* Contending for the faith is not “marking” everyone with whom you have the slightest disagreement.
One aspect of spiritual maturity is the ability to determine what should be made a test of fellowship, and what may be overlooked as honest differences of opinion. Does a man’s teaching reflect upon Deity?
Does it corrupt the New Testament plan of worship?
Does it militate against holiness?

These, and questions of a similar nature, are vital in resolving this confusion.
With some, however, the issue is not: what does a brother stand for? Rather, it is: with what clique does he run?

* Contending for the faith is not characterized by favoritism.
Paul instructed Timothy to do “nothing by partiality” (1 Timothy 5:21).
When Peter acted the part of a hypocrite by refusing to eat with Gentiles in the presence of certain influential Jews, Paul knew that such an inconsistency could not go unchallenged.
Hence, when Peter came to Antioch, the apostle to the Gentiles “resisted him to the face” and rebuked him publicly (Galatians 2:11ff).
One of the greatest tests of a man’s character is whether or not he has the grit to stand against a friend, or perhaps a kinsman, who has drifted into error.

Inspiration has exhorted us all to “earnestly contend for the faith.”
What a challenge this is in these times of confusion and rapid change. May the Lord grant us the wisdom to accept this responsibility with devotion, firmness, good sense, love, and abiding commitment to the cause of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 comment:

Libby said...

True insight from God's Word!