18 November 2011

The (A) impossible (B) imperative: (A) speaking the truth (B) in love

by Dan Phillips

[Since I'm pretty sure Phil (who I'd rather read, also) won't have the time to write today, let me share something rattling about in my brainium. If he does post, he should just bump me.]

It's one of those things that we must do, and yet will never do perfectly. It's one of those things that everyone always probably errs a little bit this way or a little bit that way. Except Jesus.

You know what it is: it's Paul's little phrase usually translated "speaking the truth in love" (Eph. 4:15). The Greek is more literally "being truthful in love." It is essential for the growth of the whole body ("being truthful in love, let us grow unto Him..."). So: if we speak the truth, but without love, we won't grow. And if we love, but are not truthful, we won't grow. Both = FAIL. Erring either way seriously = FAIL. Refusing to do one out of supposed allegiance to the other = FAIL.

What brings this up? Well, everything; but two recent particulars.

This week, I've had two posts at Pyro (to wit: here and here) about the Jakes/MacDonald/Elephant Room deal, and one at my blog about the recent Wallis-Mohler debate.

In both, I tried to speak the truth in love. Love people, and love truth. Rough combo, sometimes, but imperative as a desideratum.

In both, people think I failed, which always concerns me. Some folks I respect didn't like the one at my blog; and I had to delete a couple of rants that didn't engage the substance of the Pyro posts, yet which complained over the whole concept and, of course, bascially called me and my like "haters."

Now, here's an interesting thing. The friends who faulted me respect and love me, I believe, but they disagreed with my posting my disagreement about one man I respect, and (indirectly) about one man I don't know but know to be respected by folks I respect.

Do you see the static there? They clearly think it was okay and loving to criticize me, publicly, for criticizing others publicly.

And I agree with them: it really is okay for them to disagree with something I did.

But what did I do? I disagreed with (or expressed concern about) something others did. How did I do it? Well, if you can read the Wallis-Mohler post and not see that I bent over backwards to say that, at the same time, I (A) think very highly indeed of Al Mohler, and (B) am disappointed at the way I perceive that he responded to Wallis, then I just must not know anything about this whole writing thingie.

Similarly with the Jakes/MacDonald fracas. I stuck strictly to what I know and see in the out-there world, and tried to bring Bibley thinking to bear, without peeking into their hearts. Because I can't! Mercy, much of the time it's a real project to understand my own heart — which I'm inside of — without trying to read others'.

Which is, I think, the whole point of Jesus' oft-quoted and seldom-understood "Judge not" prohibition (Matt. 7:1-5). Clearly He isn't saying not to judge actions and ideas to be bad, wrong, worthy of instant disapprobation and rejection... because He immediately enjoins just that (v. 6).

So in both posts, I tried at that balance. As to Wallis-Mohler, I saw some ideas (Wallis') which I perceive as poisonous and pernicious, and I saw them not properly decimated. That's what I talked about. Ditto Jakes/MacDonald: I focused on words and choices and implications. That's plenty, without trying to mind-read.

Now, think of where we have to go if that isn't all true. For instance, we who preach are perfectly okay that our wives or friends can come up and say, "You know, that wasn't your best sermon." Or "Did you not sleep well last night?" Or "Wow, what did that verse ever do to you?!" Okay, that last one is a bit mean. But friends can offer some criticism of something we did without our justly rounding on them and bellowing "What?! Why do you hate me?"

But some of the issues over those posts seem similar. If I can't say I wish Mohler had handled an encounter differently (as I do) and, at the same time, say I think he's a great guy and a heroic figure... then where are we heading? We're heading towards a world where nothing but unconditional approval of everything everybody does is the only "loving" choice.

But don't we know better than that, already, as Christians?

And if we scold others' actions in scolding others's actions, aren't we setting up a possible Bogotronic Anomaly that will surely lead to the implosion of the entire universe?

The alternative also involves tilting off into the trackless waste of subjectivism and ironic mindreading. I offer some truthful criticism of something Dr. X says or does, amid much also-truthful praise. You tell me it was unloving of me to do so. I tell you I love Dr. X. You tell me, Oh no you don't. I reply, Oh yes I do. And on it goes, with no end in sight.

And now we're talking about your judgment of my feelings, to which only God and I have access, instead of the objective facts of Dr. X's words and actions, in light of God's Word, to which all of us have access.

And where does all of that leave us? Nowhere good, according to my calculations.

So in sum: truthful, and loving. Rough balance. Probably impossible.

But the pursuit is imperative.

Dan Phillips's signature

52 comments:

Sam said...

Where exactly were you unloving again? My only complaint is that the title of the post on your blog was misleading. There was nothing "rude" about it: respectful, humble, and clear.

DJP said...

Yeah, I'm puzzling over the title. What I meant by it, and how some took it, were two different things. I'll write about that over there; thx for the reminder.

Sam said...

that was meant to be a compliment rather than a real complaint!

Tom Chantry said...

re. the title:

When I first read it I thought, "Uh-Oh." When I then read the article, I puzzled over the title for a moment and wondered if you meant the old-style rude: roughly constructed and primitive. Not that I thought that about your article, but, perhaps (I imagined) you thought, "I'm writing this criticism off the cuff; it shouldn't be taken as a formal review."

But that didn't make sense either, and I decided you were being ironic.

dac said...

if you fail to speak the truth, you have not loved.

generally.

Tom Chantry said...

I wonder if this doesn't reflect the politicization of our culture to some degree.

We live in a day of perpetual election cycles (nowhere more than in my adoptive home state of Wisconsin) and so we are constantly rallying to defend "our guy." If a conservative columnist criticizes one action of a conservative politician, a host rises up to scream Reagan's Eleventh Commandment: "Thou Shalt Not Criticize a Republican!" The result is that, by constantly defending our standard-bearers against all comers, we accidentally deify them - as though it were impossible for them to do wrong.

But don't we do the same within the church? Prominent pastors are sometimes viewed as bearing the standard for whole groups of people. Mohler (for instance) was a true champion throughout the process of recovering Southern Seminary. He came under attack from many sides. Those who appreciated what he was doing came to his defense - but is it our habit to defend him in the manner of a political candidate? To insist that he can do no wrong?

As bad as this is for politicians, it is far worse for pastors. Men who ought to excel in Christian humility are not well served by supporters who tear down anyone with the least criticism.

I am prone to this myself. When someone lays a finger on one of my heroes, my reaction is all too often fury. But no pastor is well served by those who would shield him from all criticism. We can see the result in some of the more outrageous mega-pastors. They are surrounded by a chorus of angry defenders, and they lose the ability to hear criticism. Soon they begin to brag about the fact that they'll give a critic one chance to change his tune before shutting him out entirely!

So, let's not tempt our heroes! It'll do them good to hear loving criticism once in a while, and it might not even destroy them to hear some that's not so loving every so often. These men are pastors - not fragile political candidates!

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...

I’ve already made it clear over at your blog Dan that I think you handled things just fine but this one line of yours really caught my eye:

”If I can't say I wish Mohler had handled an encounter differently (as I do) and, at the same time, say I think he's a great guy and a heroic figure... then where are we heading?

Shudder the thought. We need another blog where people spend more time worrying about “how” somebody said something instead of “what” they said like we need another… well… Elephant Room.

Tell the tone-police to take their meds while you guys keep doing what you’ve been doing. In a world where political correctness has gone mad (even among Christians), it is not only refreshing, but very much needed.

Marla said...

"Tell the tone-police to take their meds while you guys keep doing what you’ve been doing. In a world where political correctness has gone mad (even among Christians), it is not only refreshing, but very much needed."

Ron (RC) exactly! It seems that if someone doesn't like what you have to say (no matter how loving you say it) this is the result -- your tone was mean! Reminds me of a recent problem Ken Ham encountered with a HS convention held in my state.
In essence -- you can discount whatrever is said by attacking the 'tone'. Political trick if there ever was one.

Especially in the last few posts about the ER2, Dan I've thought your post was both loving and truthful. Keep it up.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...
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Webster Hunt (Parts Man) said...

Tom Chantry, I'd like to quote that last paragraph if I may. I have not thought of the danger of defending someone like that. I hate that my generation, especially me, doesn't take reproof and criticism very well, and I fight hard against that now; how strange that in my heart is still that seed and it takes the form of something softer and more deceptive - it's the same thing only in reverse order, like running so hard against racism that you become a racist against your own ethnicity (my wife and I were rebuked for doing that, so I know well). Wow. Love has so many dimensions, it's a shame that we've dumbed it down to "don't hurt my warm fuzzies!"

DJP said...

Me, I'm still waiting on this from TUAD.

DJP said...

And, btw, back to the post, all.

Phil Johnson said...

The tone-police argument works both ways.

I hate it when people's only answer to some well-reasoned blogpost is an attack on my tone--especially when they don't cite anything specific that they think breached the bounds of Christian charity. Because I do work very hard not to be uncharitable.

I also work hard not to be unclear. I happen to think plain speaking is a virtue, and a grossly undervalued one.

Problem is, lots of people think plain speaking is inherently uncharitable--especially when plain speech is used to challenge one of their pet ideas. It can sound harsh, especially in the realm of postmodern academia (where you are virtually REQUIRED to say two positive things for every negative you point out).

Here's the deal: You can count on tone-police citations if you value plain words. It comes with the territory.

On the other hand, complaining that Al Mohler came across as if he were trying too hard to sound "nice" is itself a kind of tone-police citation, isn't it?

I see both sides here. I understand Dan's wish that Mohler had been more aggressive with Wallis. Yet I like and admire Al Mohler for who he is, and I don't wish for a different kind of Mohler.

I might watch the Mohler-Wallis debate and at some points wish Mohler had groin-kicked a Wallis argument rather than playing rope-a-dope, but let's face it: that's why someone like me would never get an opportunity to answer Wallis in the first place.

At the end of the day, I'm glad we have Al Mohler, who has probably done more than anyone else in our generation to pull pastoral training and gospel proclamation back from the precipice of postmodern pettifoggery. He deserves credit for that. I wouldn't be quick to write him up for a tone violation.

Same thing goes for Todd Friel, James White, Dan Phillips, and whoever writes the pre-recorded comedy bits for Chris Rosebrough's program. I wouldn't say everything the way those guys do. But what a dreary, curmudgeonly world it would be if everyone were required to be just like me.

I think we should all lay off the tone-cop complaints and concern ourselves more with substance.

Robert said...

Dan,

The one thing you are missing from your hypotheticl dialogue is "Oh, no you di-ent!" and a head bob. If God is against the proud and gives grace to the humble, then we'd be far better off learning to accept criticism and find ways to improve than to shudder and react violently every time somebody offers a critique of one of us or one of the pastors/theologians that we like/follow.

I guess I shouldn't have necessarily been sad about your post yesterday, but actually happy that you were willing to offer some criticism. I also appreciate what Phil says about Mohler being who he is. I remember hearing somebody say that true humility comes from accepting yuor weaknesses and learning to pray and count on God's strength where we are weak. Somehow I think having a critique offered is actually part of that process because one weakness we all have is the inability to see our blind spots.

DJP said...

On the greatness that is Al Mohler: yep, everything I said at my blog, and much more, I'm sure

On Mohler being nice to Wallis: no problem

On Mohler (to my mind) being nice to Wallis' ideas: problem

Do I think Mohler really secretly agrees with Wallis? Nope

Hence the tension in my mind, which I've tried to express as clearly as I can, with clearly mixed results.

My fault, no doubt.

The Squirrel said...

Tom Chantry said something which needs to be trumpeted, so...

Ahem...

"no pastor is well served by those who would shield him from all criticism."

Amen!

Squirrel

DJP said...

Yes, Robert, you and Phil and I all share admiration for Mohler.

Thanks.

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I am listenting to the debate now. So far, it seems that Al Mohler (who I love as a brother) is not taking the debate "point by point," as does James White. He seems to be reading some thoughts he had prepared on the subject prior to the actual content of the debate.

I may see it differently once I hear the entire debate.

romans923 said...

Thank you for tackling these issues at potential and realized cost to your standing in the evangelical community. If you guys don't, not sure who else will.

stratagem said...

Well I hadn't read your blogrant about Mohler's debate before this, but I just did - and it is excellent. That Wallis fellow has always bothered me because I knew that he is using Christian belief to make Christians into political tools. But I never articulated the reasons why he bothered me half as well as you did. Thanks.

DJP said...

Thanks. And I'm just a dimwitted little no-one. Just think if some real firepower were brought to bear?

stratagem said...

Oh, that and...


"LEAVE MOHLER ALONE!"

:-0

DebbieLynne said...

On a personal note, I need to confront a dear friend who has both fallen into serious error and is publicly teaching it. The hesitation I feel is precisely about this "impossible imperative." You have no idea how greatly both this post and your Mohler-Wallis post have encouraged me! Thank you!

DJP said...

Thanks, DebbieLynne. On p. 183 of the Proverbs book I quote old Henry Alford, who notes that giving rebuke is the "best and most difficult office of Christian friendship.”

Jules LaPierre said...

Dan (and Phil) ... I think you summed up the dilemma with these two statements:

"We're heading towards a world where nothing but unconditional approval of everything everybody does is the only "loving" choice."

-and-

"Problem is, lots of people think plain speaking is inherently uncharitable."

Kerry James Allen said...

"A very plain-spoken enemy may do us ten times more good than an indulgent friend." Charles Haddon Spurgeon

DJP said...

So... plain-spoken friend = win|win?

donsands said...

"We're heading towards a world where nothing but unconditional approval of everything everybody does is the only "loving" choice."

That's a huge part of the world now for sure. And very sad to say, the Church is finding this within her midst as well growing as a virus.

What is the saying that goes something like this:

"In all essentials unity; In all non-essentials liberty."

Seems like it will be for many in our day, more and more: "in everything no matter what liberty."

Keep on speaking the Bible Dan. there is nothing in this universe like the Word of God! It is magnificent!: and beyond magnificent really. At my church, Bishop Cummins RE, we are being fed through the Gospel of John, and are on chapter 5, getting ready to start feeding on my favorite meal; chapter 6. Yet, it's all good with God's shepherds tending and feeding, and the third Person of the Trune God working within the Word and our ears, and mouths and hearts to change us in so many ways: Make us stronger, happier, holier, humbler, bolder, etc. And most of all for His own glory, especially the glory of Jesus Christ our Lord and Friend.

Have a great Saturday and Sunday bro!

This is for you tonight: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoEsMdBzISo&feature=related

Jehovah Mekoddishkem said...
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Shayne McAllister said...

I am normally in general agreement with Team Pyro. But I'm often annoyed that the general vibe the Team seems to put off is one of wreaking havoc and "setting the world on FIRE" and so forth. I get the point, but isn't it much easier to open yourselves up to charges of hyper-criticism if you name your site after a group of people who have no control over how they set fires? How great a fire the tounge kindles right?

Consider a name change?

Sir Aaron said...

@Dan:

You told the truth and you did it with love. There will always be unhappy with whatever you say. And the more right you are the more they'll complain about your tone.

Most of your regulars love Al Mohler and probably read his blog or listen to his radio show. But who wants an echo chamber? I don't know Al personally (obviously), but I would bet he appreciates constructive criticism such as you gave. Everybody needs it to improve.

Kerry James Allen said...

In Dan's defense, substitute "write" for the word "preach" in the following quote, and then we will all sit down: "I believe that at bottom, most people think it an uncommonly easy thing to preach, and that they could do it amazingly well themselves." CHS

Mary Elizabeth Tyler said...

I still got the impression they were talking past one another. As if their speeches were prepared in advance. They didn't deal specifically with ALL the issues point by point.

I may be wrong, but that is the way I saw it. Then again, I was distracted a few times during the actual debate.

michaelrjones said...

Dan:

I read your "rude" post and didn't find it hateful or rude at all, certainly not as "rude" some of your commenters made it out to be.

After eleven years as a pastor I have concluded that It doesn't matter how loving and gracious you try to be, the person who doesn't like what you have to say is always going to attack your tone or say that you are being hateful.

The only other option is to be as Mohler was, so "irenic" that you fail to "contend earnestly" as you ought.

Bottom line: Galatians 1:10 is true in this context as well: "If we seek to please men, we are not servants of Christ."

Jehovah Mekoddishkem said...

some people just can't seem to remove that log out their eye.

If a person believes your "tone" was "rude" then why do they turn around and do the very thing they are accusing you of? Must be their own hearts that need correction first. why
I've learned in my walk with Jesus that even "if" someone is in the wrong, do I care enough to pray for them?

Michael Lawmaster said...
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southerngospelyankee said...

Per Phil Johnson's comment earlier about people who criticize your "tone" without being particularly helpful or reasonable in the process... I can relate. This past year, I spent some time in a blog community called the Rabbit Room, which is run by Andrew Peterson. As a huge fan of Andrew's, I figured it couldn't hurt to get involved in the community and start leaving comments on people's posts, right? Wrong. Because sometimes I disagreed with them---very politely and articulately. Apparently, I was still being offensive.

It started gradually and snowballed until I'd received scolding e-mails from several members of the community telling me that I was clearly just looking for attention, that I needed to spend more time "listening," that I didn't really know what I was talking about, etc., etc. One musician whose name I won't mention was so incredibly rude to me (with no cause whatsoever) that he later had to come back and apologize. It didn't matter how hard I bent over backwards to accommodate them. Comments were still edited and deleted. Sometimes they were deleted and I had no idea why. I've since pretty much stopped commenting over there, because it isn't worth it. So much for creating a place for people to share a variety of opinions in an articulate manner.

Jehovah Mekoddishkem said...

southerngospelyankee, as I was reading your comment, I couldn't help but to think of how the internet has conditioned people to become unceremoniously detached from others when it comes to accountability.
After all I'm behind a computer aren't I and not face to face with you.

I have a motto that goes with what I previously said. If you are going to correct someone, It's best to go before God in prayer for yourself first and foremost and then pray for them. If you don't and proceed to correct, then consider the fact that GOD will judge you with the same standard of judgment you are using on someone else.


Psa 18:24 "The LORD has rewarded me according to my righteousness, according to the cleanness of my hands in his sight.

25 To the faithful you show yourself faithful, to the blameless you show yourself blameless,

26 to the pure you show yourself pure, but to the crooked you show yourself shrewd.

Pro 12:16 "A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult."

Rachael Starke said...

In God's sovereignty, I've been buried in other things (like ministry), and then flattened by a cold/laryngitis thing, so I haven't been able to listen to the debate, or comment until today. That's frustrating, because this whole area of speaking the truth in love and, especially, listening to the truth in love, are near to my heart, as well as my flesh.

Having just read this post and the other one, one possible source of confusion is that people are misinterpreting Dan's critique of the substance of Mohler's talk with criticism of the manner in which it was delivered.

Prior to the Internet era, critique of substance in an argument was common and ubiquitous, but criticism of the delivery was far less so, unless the argument was in printed form, or unless you were physically present for the verbal delivery.

The Internet era has enable the conflation of critique of substance and style, even as people have become unable to be discerning about the difference between the two.

Add to that that people seem to all heated up over charity in speaking, but notsomuch about charity in listening or in reading, and I can understand Dan's frustration. Dan made an attempt to "think out loud", in print, about the substance of Mohler's argument - what he chose to say, what he chose not to say - and disagree with Mohler's choices. That's been conflated, by some, to "Dan didn't like the way Mohler talked, and that means he's not being nice to Mohler. And that means he's not nice."

I'd respectfully submit that's an example of uncharitable reading.

Rachael Starke said...

The solution, though, to both uncharitable speaking and listening is, of course, the gospel.

Because we are counted righteous in Christ, we are free to hear even harsh criticism and take it to Christ - to see the truth in it and ask for help to repent, to deflect what's not true to Christ, and to rest in Him to reveal the truth to both speaker and listener, in His time, for His glory.

That covers all of us. Blogger, commenters and everyone in between.

donsands said...

"Comments were still edited and deleted. Sometimes they were deleted and I had no idea why."-gospelyankee

Been there, and done that. And will until our savior returns most likely. But it's worth it. Eeven though some become upset, others are thinking deeper, and some may even be encouraged. And for some, we simply need to shake the dust off our cloaks.

have a great Lord's Day! Lord bless us all. Amen.

DJP said...

Rachael — ...people are misinterpreting Dan's critique of the substance of Mohler's talk with criticism of the manner in which it was delivered

Thank you, thank you. Extremely well-put.

Ron (aka RealityCheck) said...

My only problem with what you have said Rachael is that I find it hard to believe that someone could misinterpret what Dan said. Over and over he went out of his way to express his admiration for Mohler and that he just wished Mohler would have done a better job. In fact, his disappointment of what Mohler didn’t do only makes sense in relationship to how much he thought Mohler was capable of doing. IOW, if he didn’t think so much of Mohler, and therefore have such high expectations, he wouldn’t have been so disappointed.

I guess what I’m saying is, I don’t think it’s so much about accidental misinterpreting, but purposeful misrepresenting. It’s the kind of thing we have learned to expect from the non-believers… after all… what else have they got? But to believe that it keeps coming in the form of “friendly-fire”, because our fellow Christians just can’t figure out what someone is saying… sorry… you’re a lot nicer than I am Rachael, because I’m just not buying it.

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...

I thought I had nothing to add to what I've already written elsewhere.

However, in this wonderful world of us all misinterpreting each other, I will only point out that my issue was not with what Dan said about Dr. Mohler per se. And it's certainly not a matter of "touch not mine anointed," because I'm no particular fanboy of Dr. Mohler's, any more or less than I am of any other public Christian personality.

Rather, I was taking issue with Dan's disappointment in Mohler's not going after Wallis in the way he would have preferred, since I was agreeing with Barbara in that Mohler seemed to be conducting himself in line with Paul's counsel to Timothy in 2 Tim 2.

Of course, we're all fallen sinners, and I could be quite wrong in my concern about "tone." But anyone who's familiar with my regular participation in this blog over the past 5 years will know that I'm the furthest thing from a one-note "tone cop," but I have been coming under biblical conviction on this.

Now off to church.

God bless you all.

Dave .... said...

As one with "tone control" issues, I've given up. I can't nanny to everyone's sensitivities. The best you can do is stay on-point, keep private what's private, and use the right caliber and load for your intended target. Then hold on. Silence is its own misery when you know the truth.

Stefan said...
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Stefan said...
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Stefan said...
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Stefan said...

I sympathize with Dan, because it is something that is impossible to do well: speaking the truth in love. By calling him out on Mohler versus Wallis, how well or poorly did I handle that admonishment?

I once called someone out as a "false teacher" on this very blog, and was raked over the coals for it on my own blog. I even turned to Dan for help in dealing with the fallout from that. Was I right in the way that I handled the situation? How does that square with 2 Timothy 2, or James 3?

Is any Christian off base any time he or she questions how one speaks the truth in love? Is this question off limits? Are we free to use any kind of approach and any kind of language in rebuking our opponents, come what may?

Is it simply a matter of writing off those who disagree with us as fools who are not to be suffered, and detractors to be vanquished? And how are we to regard this world of non-believers and professing believers—or even non-Calvinists? Are we to mock and ridicule and scorn them, or are we to love them and pray for them?

Just as there are Biblical principles in place for how we are to handle the truth, are there not also Biblical principles in place for how we are to interact with others—be they other Christians, non-Christians, or even false teachers?

***

Are not we, too, undeserving sinners redeemed by the blood of Christ, and totally incapable of saving ourselves? Without Christ, we too would be mired in sin and without hope of salvation. It is God in His sovereignty who has redeemed us from Hell through the precious blood of His one and only Son, Jesus Christ, as the propitiation for our sins.

We now belong to another and are the bondservants of Christ. We have been baptized into His Kingdom, which inverts every worldly value and prizes the meek over the strong, the humble over the proud, the poor over the rich. We have been called to be salt and light to the world, doing good in the midst of people who are hostile to the Gospel.

We are commanded to make disciples of every nation and to teach them all that Jesus Christ has commanded. Among other things, He has commanded us to love our enemies, do good to those who persecute us, and not neglect the least of our brothers and sisters.

After all, we too were rebels against God. We too were sinners implacably hostile to the God who created us, if we are true to our Calvinist convictions. We deserve nothing from God except eternal perdition, and are undeserving beneficiaries of His wholly unmerited grace and mercy through Jesus Christ.

We are called to be committed to the sovereignty of God and the truth of His Word, and as Calvinists, we are confident that God in His sovereignty will ultimately triumph over every lie and mistruth, and that He will prevail in redeeming the full number of His elect from every tribe, nation, and tongue.

Rather than see other Christians and non-Christians as sparring partners whom we must best in order to score one for Christ, should we not see them as people who are as desparately in need of a saviour as we are?

Does that mean that we hide or suppress or massage the Gospel? Absolutely not! We know the Gospel will even be offensive. But let the offense be in the nature of the Gospel message itself—that the Son of God humbled Himself to the point of dying on a Cross for our sins—than in our own conduct and treatment of other Christians and the watching world. May the way in which we live the Gospel be as potent a witness as the words with which we preach the Gospel.

And let us remember to bow down before the throne of Grace, knowing that even if our theology is more perfect than Paul’s, we have no right whatsoever to claim God's favour upon us, except by His amazing and world-transforming act of grace in the Cross—and that we are no more deserving of His love and indulgence than whomever we despise the most as our most contemptible and implacable opponents.

***

(Apologies for the multiple deletions.)

Jim Pemberton said...

'...we who preach are perfectly okay that our wives or friends can come up and say, "You know, that wasn't your best sermon." Or "Did you not sleep well last night?" Or "Wow, what did that verse ever do to you?!" Okay, that last one is a bit mean. But friends can offer some criticism of something we did without our justly rounding on them and bellowing "What?! Why do you hate me?"'

Great point! I wish I had friends like that.

Jehovah Mekoddishkem said...

Even our own friends, family members, brothers and sisters who are close don't always need criticisms though. I'm sure Jesus didn't speak oftentimes someone did wrong and I'm so glad.
We can be overbearing and harm people if we're not careful thinking we are complimenting them. Our Father is the Gardner and he does the pruning very well not us

Sometimes it's just best to say nothing. To pick and choose our battles wisely--- If it's to expose false teachings yes do so if it's to compliment, let's do it with respect and kindness remembering how Jesus treats us

I know I wouldn't want someone critiquing me as if they were looking over my shoulder- (I’m not implying that’s what was going on here). However, some of this is kind of petty to me.

"The deeper the sorrow, the less tongue it has"-Jewish Talmud-and no for anyone who might misunderstand me, I'm not promoting Judiasm, just a pithy saying--

Proverbs has much to say about our tongues, mouths etc. The Holy Spirit will certainly do a good clean sweep with your mouth if you let him teach you

Proverbs 13:3 "He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.

Proverbs 10:19 "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise"