We’re worried about peoples’ feelings – and not about being honest and faithful to their souls. We all act like we’re following Paul’s directive: “in humility count others more significant than yourselves.” And we all forget the first half of that verse: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit”.
We live in a false humility when we are afraid to speak to one another honestly. “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father. Treat younger men like brothers, older women like mothers, younger women like sisters, in all purity.” As Christians, we are a family – we are God’s adopted sons and daughters. In almost every physical family I’ve ever seen, there is a dynamic of communication and honesty that is sadly lacking in the church of God.
The public face of American society has become one full of political correctness – make sure you never say anything that might be offensive, and spend massive amounts of effort in qualifying what you are about to say so that no one could possibly misunderstand what you are trying to say. Though Paul was writing to a fellow minister of the Gospel, we would all do well to heed his words to Timothy: “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus … preach the word; … reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” It is the duty of every Christian to be watchful of his brother: unlike Cain, we may not come to God and say, “am I my brother’s keeper?” As members of the body of Christ, we must be concerned for every other member of that body – just like parents worry about their children and we are concerned that not only our hands, but also our ears and feet are healthy, we must be concerned for the other members of the church.
Jesus told us to “be innocent as doves but wise as serpents”. It is a false humility – indeed a failing of the command of Christ – to ‘only’ be “innocent as doves”. It is part and parcel of that command to likewise be “wise as serpents”.
In writing to the Galatians, Paul certainly didn’t hold back when he says, “even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.” Or when he called Peter to the floor for hypocrisy: “when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, ‘If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?'”
The modern church has mostly lost this level of confidence and fearlessness to confront others when they are wrong.
I pray that if I have written or said anything amiss, that it would be forgotten and that I would be corrected. What I have written and said that is NOT wrong, though, needs to be taken to heart. On matters of opinion, I am happy to discuss, debate, and argue. But on matters of truth – there is no discussion. Truth cannot be argued with.
Indeed, “let God be true and every man a liar”: God’s Word as recorded in the Bible is unalterable and perfect. The modern church needs to come back to this and not be afraid of rumpling a couple feathers to present the Truth, to correct error, or to rebuke sin. Far better if a couple of your feathers are rumpled, but you finish the race of the Christian life and enter Heaven than if you’re molly-coddled and end up in Hell.