Last Thursday morning, out of the blue, I received an email from a trusted friend. All this email said was "Don't drink the poison". I received this a little before 8:00 in the morning. Fifteen minutes later, out of the blue, the phone rang. I looked at the caller ID and it was the head of a ministry I quit supporting last year.
I don't know if I would have answered the phone, but due to the mysterious email I received there was no way I was going to "drink that poison". I believe that Almighty God knew there was a possibility I would waver in my conviction to standing upon the directions from the Word of God regarding such a matter. I believe God watches over me and thus saw fit to work in a friend's heart to pass along a message that meant nothing to the person receiving it.
I believe the Lord reinforced two great things for me on Thursday. First is that there are a few times in this life when God will indeed work in another believer's heart to provide an urgent message for another believer. I don't believe that this is the norm at all, but I do believe it is possible and at times necessary for the Lord to work this way.
Far too many times in my life I have had some well-meaning and sincere believer approach me and tell me that God told them to tell meÂ€ Usually what God allegedly told them was either that I should give them money or that I was so messed up I needed to immediately repent and join their church. I can count on one hand the times when indeed God was the source of the message delivered. Long ago I lost count of all the times I proved conclusively that God was not the author of the message at all.
The second lesson I relearned on Thursday was that God means business when He repeatedly speaks in His Word about the proper way of dealing with those who cause division, deceive God's people, are guilty of abusing their positions within the church or refuse to listen to sound doctrine. In all these cases the New Testament is very clear that we are shun, turn away from, avoid and otherwise refuse to share fully in their error.
Romans 16 speaks of "marking and avoiding" those who cause division. I and 2 Timothy along with Titus give specific example of the need to simply have no company with those too arrogant or stubborn to listen to the truth and change. Titus says after the second admonition reject (excuse oneself). There is no profit in running word battles or prolonged attempts to change a person's mind through debates or "word battles (as 1 Timothy 6 calls them)".
The man who called me Thursday morning refuses to believe there is anything wrong with the way he runs his ministry. He has no willingness to even listen, let along change anything. There is absolutely no profit in my resuming any communications with such a person so there was thus no reason for me to answer the phone the other day.
There are many Christians who feel it is unloving, cruel and sinful to refuse to associate with those who for obvious reasons are outside the fold and have no desire to get back into it. I have known people who literally wasted a decade of their lives by not walking away from a ministry whose only intent was to hurt them and take their money. Their excuse was they kept hoping things would change. They never did.
There are times in this life when a person just has to draw a line in the sand and say "NO MORE". We have no authority to aggressively fight back against someone who is outside the fold, but we do have full authority to step away from them if they refuse to listen to the truth.
There are times, in situations like these, where the emotions run deep and the temptation to waver is strong, I believe God can and does work in the heart of a true friend to pass along a message that means nothing to them. All I can do is thank God from the depths of my heart that God blessed me with a friend willing to listen and obey. May we all be such friends to those we are close to.
Dear Kirk--Well written and well said. Refusing to continue the debate is especially difficult when it involves those closest to us. But the Scriptures make no distinctions where relationships are concerned. Perhaps the best illustration of the point you have made is Jesus and "the rich young ruler." No one could have loved that man more than our Lord. But when he balked at the counsel Jesus gave him, Jesus did not pursue him to carry on a debate or to offer him a gentler, softer deal. When we stand on the Word in love, that ends all debate or argument. Excellent blog, my brother. :) YBIC--Ron
Many Christians have been have suffered greatly because they do not heed what the warnings which the Bible so clearly gives. When God puts up warning signs, He does so for a reason. He expects to pay attention to them and listen!
Another powerful blog my friend. Many times we can forget that we are there only to 'plant the seed'. Very rarely are we there from 'plant to reap or go to whoa'! I think I prefer (actually, I know I prefer) to respond to the tap on the shoulder rather than a lump of 4"x2" around the back of the head.
May we continually become more aware of the warning signs and alarm bells from God.
i think back now and love it when a fellow christian says"i dont like to argue, debate or confront. I know from scripture that Jesus confronted people and did it in a loving way.along that line, thanks for the blog, there are people that hear and belive what they want. i just"keep it moving to be about my father's business.. be blessed
It is amazing that God touched "two birds with a single stone'; The messenger and the messagee. I believe that God often prefers to work through others rather directly... more often than not. But you make this point so very well. milt