By Jack hyles
2. Treatment of the
3. Treatment of the
4. Treatment of the
5. Treatment of the
6. Treatment of Followers
7. Treatment of Those
Who Have Qualities That Are Irritating
8. Treatment of Your
9. Treatment of Enemies
10. Treatment of
11. Treatment of
Those Who Are Stumbling Blocks
12. Why We Have Strife
in Our Churches
13. Act, Don’t React!
14. Leaders and Followers
15. My Ten Commandments
When Sinned Against
16. Choosing Your
Friends in the Church
17. The End Result
of Improper Relationships
18. The Principle
19. Dying for Fellow
Pastors who leave churches because of problems,
find the same problems welcoming them on the front porch of their new pastorate.
Pastors who leave churches because of disgruntled
members, will find those same members waiting for them at the door of their
Pastors who leave churches because of an enemy,
will find that same enemy is a member of the church where they are going.
One cannot run from problems concerning human
relationships. These problems must not be avoided or evaded; they must
be solved. Life is composed of a series of human relationships. Much of
one’s success in life depends upon the proper handling of these relationships
and the proper priorities concerning them.
Whether we like it or not, we must relate to people
who are weaker than we are. Whether we like it or not, we must learn to
relate to people who are stronger than we are. Whether we like it or not,
we must learn to relate to our enemies, to the fallen, to the tormentor
and to the tempter. All of these are found in every church, and the members
of every church must learn to face them properly if we are to reach a lost
I have preached all over this great nation. I
have delivered over 45,500 sermons. I have found that God’s people are
basically the same everywhere. Every little group of us is a microcosm
of all of us, and each of us must learn to live peaceably with the rest
of us. To that end, I give you this book and my heart.
Romans 12:10, “Be kindly affectioned one to another
with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another.”
Ephesians 4:1-3, “I therefore, the prisoner of
the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye
are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing
one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the
bond of peace.”
Ephesians 4:30-32, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit
of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness,
and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from
you, with all malice: and be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving
one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.”
I Corinthians 6:7, “Now therefore there is utterly
a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not
rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded?”
As is said often in this manuscript, the modem
fundamental church is far more intricate than it was in previous generations.
In earlier times church members were together only a few hours a week.
On Sunday morning we met for Sunday school, which was followed by the morning
preaching service. About half of us returned on Sunday night, and a remnant
came to the midweek service on Wednesday evening. Because of this, we did
not know each other real well, and the possibilities of irritation were
few and seldom. We could wear our best behavior for an hour or two. So,
it was easy to like each other.
The modem fundamental church is far more complicated
than that. We are together often and for long periods at a time. For example,
the First Baptist Church of Hammond has many things for our children and
young people. We have our Christian schools where a child can enroll in
kindergarten at the age of 4 and 19 years later graduate from our college
with his master’s degree. This means that we are together at school five
days a week for seven or eight hours. Included in the school program are
many extracurricular activities such as sports, cheer leading, pep squads,
shops, class meetings, class parties, field trips, etc. Then the church
provides regular youth activities, camps, choirs, children’s clubs and
intramural boys baseball league, Bible studies, prayer groups, teenage
soul winning, high school Bible clubs, etc.
This means that the fundamental church of today
has become its own little community. We are together not only for two or
three hours on Sunday, but we are together every day of the week.
These activities cause multitudes of opportunities
for interaction and provide many different forms of relationships. The
average parent, for example, has regular contact with those who lead his
children. There are many of these such as the principal, the teachers,
the coaches, the choir directors, the youth directors, the Sunday school
teachers, the Bible club leaders, the soul-winning captains and many others.
We no longer simply see each other sitting side by side in the quietness
of a morning service, but we are constantly interacting with church people.
We see each other as we are. We see faults as well as strengths, liabilities
as well as assets, and the minus as well as the plus.
Men, when we go to church, we may share the same
Sunday school class with the parents of the child we teach in school and
with the teacher of our child. We may sit in the same choir with them or
usher side by side with them. We may sit with them in the same Sunday school
class or share the same bus route. We may sit
side by side in one of many other church activities
of the modem fundamental church. All of this means that there are more
chances for disagreement, irritability and even strife. Constant care must
be taken in order to minimize friction caused by disagreements.
1. Do not express disappointments. So
can be left unsaid. Never use such statements as, “I am disappointed with
you,” “I am disappointed in him,” or “I wish you had not done that.” There
is no law that says that we must comment on everything that is said to
us or that we must critique everything that is done to us. If something
has been done that has disappointed us, it has already been done and there
is no undoing it. There is no need for us to summarize our displeasure.
This is the time to use the art of silence.
2. Do not give your opinions if not asked or
if they are outside your area of authority. There is no law
that requires us to always give an opinion, and it is usually best to keep
our opinions to ourselves unless our advice is requested or unless it is
within our area of authority and responsibility. If someone expresses an
opinion with which we disagree, it is usually best not to voice that disagreement.
An aid to this is the division of responsibilities.
I am a firm believer in delegation and separation of authority. The more
decisions that we share, the more opportunities we create for disagreement.
For example, in a home I think it is wise for the husband and wife to divide
responsibilities, therefore making as few decisions together as possible.
For example, at our house I take care of the finances. That is my responsibility
and my area. For these many years I have given Mrs. Hyles an allowance
every week from whence she buys groceries and incidentals and then has
some left for herself. She spends this money as she chooses. Apart from
that, I am in charge of the rest of the finances. We never have to argue
or fuss about money. She has her area of responsibility and I have mine.
On the other hand, the house, its furnishing and
keeping are her responsibilities. She chooses where the furniture is placed,
and all the decisions concerning the house are hers. If I come in some
night and the sofa is in the entrance hall blocking the door, I will simply
crawl over the sofa and say, “What a novel idea! Not many wives realize
how tired their husbands are and are thoughtful enough to give him a place
to rest as soon as he walks in the door.”
Other responsibilities are divided likewise, which
means there is no opportunity to disagree or argue. This is why I advise
young couples not to go grocery shopping together. She may want one brand;
he may want another. If 100 objects are bought together, then there are
100 opportunities for disagreement. I recommend that if young couples do
go grocery shopping together, that one should simply push the cart and
the other make all the decisions. These are just illustrations in suggesting
that we divide responsibilities so as to avoid disagreement opportunities.
This same thing should be applied at church. There
is no need to appoint five people on a flower committee to spend seven
days deciding what flowers are going to be on the communion table on Sunday
morning. Let one person do it and avoid chances for disagreement. There
is no need for a music committee to decide what the choir special will
be on Sunday. Let the music director decide. Delegate responsibility. Give
authority. Divide the decision making processes. There is no need for a
youth committee to plan the youth activity. Let the youth director do it.
Let the Christian school teacher be the school teacher. Let the principal
be the principal. Let the choir director be the choir director. Let the
bus director be the bus director. Let the head usher be the head usher.
Choose qualified, spiritual, amiable people and give them each an area
of responsibility. Of course, there should be veto power at the top, but
this power should be used wisely, carefully and seldom. Of course, it must
be remembered that the responsibility is delegated, but let there be responsibility.
This gives us less opportunity to express unnecessary opinions that could
cause strife and friction.
If the wife asks the husband what he thinks about
her new hairdo, he can sidestep the answer graciously by saying, “You always
look attractive.” This policy can be applied to all the areas of our family
and church life and will keep our disagreements from surfacing, and believe
me, most of them do not need to surface!
Of course, the wise person will seek counsel from
others concerning the decisions that he must make within his sphere of
authority, but until such advice is sought, silence is usually the best
course of action.
3. Do not demand your area of authority.There
are some fields and areas in which one might be more qualified than the
person to whom this responsibility has been delegated. Then, there are
some people who will give you advice that is unwanted and that you think
is not needed. In other words, they are not complying with the suggestions
made in the previous point. When such intrusion is made, do not bristle;
do not remind them that they are out of bounds; listen to them patiently
without making rebuttal; thank them kindly for their advice; and then choose
yourself whether or not to use it. Do not let them know who is boss or
remind them of their intrusion. Do not flaunt your title, your power or
your position. Simply realize that the power of decision is in your hands,
and if someone has unwisely used his right to intrude, his intrusion makes
you no less responsible to make the decision. Because of this, there is
no need for rebuttal on your part. Simply listen to the one who is out
of order, thank him for his suggestion and go about your business of making
the right decision within the sphere of your responsibility.
4. Do not start an answer with a negative comment.
statements as, “I don’t agree,” “You’re wrong,” etc., should never precede
a statement of disagreement. It would be far better to use such statements
as, “What do you think about this additional thought?” “Here is an idea
along the same line,” or “Your statement has led me to this thought.”
When someone presents an idea with which we do
not agree, negative statements at the first of our reply are like a slap
in the face and can partially or totally close the door of their acceptance
of our idea which is about to be expressed.
5. Allow the other person to have at least
a possibility of being right, or the possibility that he may be partially
right, or the possibility that some of his opinions may be right.Leave
him room to breathe. Leave him with some dignity.
Recently a young lady was expelled from Hyles-Anderson
College. Shortly after this expulsion, I was in her home church preaching
for two days. I asked her father if he and his daughter would have lunch
with me on Tuesday. The young lady was not treated as a criminal. She was
treated with dignity and propriety. Toward the end of the conversation
I told her that there was a possibility that we too had made some mistakes.
I asked her to tell me frankly of any area in our college where she thought
we could improve and where students could be treated with more justice,
propriety and discernment. Though she was reluctant to do so, upon my insistence,
she did. Her suggestions were very helpful, and some of them are being
implemented at this time at Hyles-Anderson College. Our conversation was
a help to me and a help to her. She was a fine young lady who had made
some mistakes and who wanted to correct them. I did her a service by giving
her a chance to help us, and she did us a service by her willingness to
help. I predict that she will return to us and that she will be a cooperative,
obedient and diligent student; and, by the way, she and I will no doubt
be friends for life.
Fundamentalists believe strongly, and this is
good, but in our interaction with each other, we must not always feel that
there is no possibility of our making a mistake. We must remember that
honest disagreement is not always rebellion or anarchy.
6. Do not express your opinion unless you have
the power to help. If someone asks me after a certain course
of action has been taken, “Did I do right?” I do not reply The act has
been committed, and it is too late for advice. I am always happy to give
advice and counsel when asked, but I do not volunteer that advice nor do
I expose my opinion when it can plant a seed that could lead to disagreement
and perhaps strife.
7. Do not express your opinion when you are
aware of the advice that has been given by your peers whom you respect
and with whom you work.
Just the night before the writing of this chapter,
a Hyles-Anderson College student came to my office asking my advice about
a matter. He reminded me that he had already sought advice from Dr. Evans,
the President of Hyles-Anderson College, and then told me quickly the advice
that Dr. Evans had given him. I graciously declined to give him advice
because I did not want to nullify or conflict with the counsel given him
by Dr. Evans, whom I respect tremendously.
This is not to say that the young person should
not have sought advice from more than one, and I would certainly have counseled
with him and advised him had I not known of his previous approach to Dr.
Evans, or if I had not known the nature of Dr. Evans’ advice.
8. Ask yourself, “Who probably has the best
chance of being right on this issue?”
If the administrative committee
of Hyles-Anderson College is discussing college curriculum concerning history
classes, I would think that Dr. Evans, one of fundamentalism’s outstanding
historians, would be eminently more qualified than I. So, if he and I were
to disagree concerning history curriculum, I would probably yield to his
position. If we then turned to the subject of the curriculum of pastoral
theology and had a disagreement, Dr. Evans would no doubt yield to my position.
Such action should also be considered when the parent disagrees with the
teacher concerning a school matter, when the teacher disagrees with the
principal concerning administration, when the member of the church disagrees
with the pastor concerning his preaching and many other areas of the church
I am an opinionated person; most leaders are.
However, I realize that my knowledge of music is very limited. To be sure,
there are boundaries that I build around the music program at First Baptist
Church and that of Hyles-Anderson College, but within those boundaries,
I almost always yield to the wishes and decisions of those in charge of
the music departments. Of course, those who lead these departments are
lovely people and would bow to my wishes on any occasion. I accept the
right to have this authority and to exercise it if I see fit, but the possession
of this right does not necessitate its frequent use. It must be remembered
that we have as much a right not to use our rights as we have to use them.
We should not abuse them by unwise use or an excess of frequency.
9. If someone refutes your opinion, let it
stop there. There is no need for rebuttal. Simply voice your willingness
to consider the opinion that has been expressed and courteously refrain
from expressing yours.
For years I have had a little hobby, that of trying
to improve the disposition of disagreeable people. It is a wonderful little
game that I play, and it is among my favorite hobbies. I was in a southern
city returning a rented car. It was very early in the morning, probably
an hour before sunrise. I went to the counter to return my papers and keys.
I greeted the young lady behind the counter with “Good morning! How are
you today?” She gave no reply; in fact, she didn’t even look up. She simply
took the papers and the keys and began her routine immediately I wanted
to help her get in a good mood, so I started my little game of trying to
make her happy Again I said, “Good morning! How are things going today?”
Again there was no reply. Similar further attempts were made to brighten
her day, and all ended in failure. I then leaned over the counter, looked
up at her and said, “Why are you mad at me?”
She grinned and replied, “Mister, it’s too early
to be nice!”
I said to her, “Ma’am, it’s just as early on this
side of the counter as it is on that side of the counter.”
She then began to laugh and thanked me for brightening
her morning. We both went on our way rejoicing.
Several years ago I was in a small city in southern
Louisiana. The dear pastor took me to lunch on Tuesday. He chose a little
downtown restaurant, locally operated and obviously very popular. The waitress
came to take our order. She was a little bit less than kind. (Ah, here
was another splendid chance for me to practice my hobby!) The pastor ordered
first, and then it was my time. I looked up with a smile and said, “I’ll
take a Big Mac, French fries and a chocolate shake.” (We were not at McDonald’s.)
She looked at me sternly, then smiled and said, “Mister, a Big Mac sure
beats anything we have to serve here!” I found that she was angry at her
employer, and as I remember, she had decided to quit her job. When she
replied that a Big Mac was better than their food, all of us laughed. My
mission was accomplished! Well, nearly, for before I left the restaurant,
it was my joy to lead her to Jesus Christ!
I was on an airplane flying to the Greensboro
- High Point Winston-Salem Airport. I sat down beside a gentleman, well,
at least I thought he would be a gentleman. I spoke to him. He did not
reply I spoke again. There was no answer. (Ah, ha! Here is a chance for
me to enjoy my hobby of cheering up a fellow human being.) I proceeded
with such statements and questions as, “Isn’t it a nice day?” etc. All
of my attempts to gain a response failed. I then tapped him on the shoulder.
He looked at me and I started using my hands as if I were speaking to him
in the sign language. With a puzzled look on his face he asked, “Fellow,
what are you doing?”
I said, “Sir, I thought perhaps you were deaf
since you had not replied to any of my questions or statements, so I was
trying to communicate in the sign language.” He began to laugh immediately,
shook my hand and introduced himself This gave me a chance to witness to
him and to lead him to Christ. (Again, mission accomplished and hobby enjoyed!)
I was flying from Orlando, Florida, to Chicago.
I had a change of planes in Tampa, Florida. Upon landing at the Tampa airport
I found that my next flight would be three hours late. There are few places
in the world more boring for three hours than an airport, so I went to
the restaurant upstairs and was met at the entrance by a young waitress.
She asked if I wanted a booth. I replied, “Yes, ma’am.”
She led me to a booth and said, “Is this all right?”
I said, “Yes, ma’am.”
She came back in a few minutes and said, “Sir,
are you ready to order?”
I said, “Yes, ma’am.”
She took her little order pad, threw it on the
table in front of me, put her hands on her hips, and said in a gruff voice,
“Yes, ma’am! Yes, ma’am! Yes, ma’am! Yes, ma’am! Yes, ma’am! Yes, ma’am!
Yes, ma’am! Yes, ma’am! Don’t you know any words, sir, other than ‘Yes,
I replied, “Yes, ma’am.”
She turned and walked away abruptly upon receiving
my order. When she came back she tossed my plate on the table, causing
some of the food to spill. (Hey, here’s a chance to do my hobby, but believe
me, this one was a real challenge!) When she returned to give me my ticket,
she turned her back, faced the other way and wrote my check. She then handed
it behind her back to me and walked away angrily. I had had a light lunch;
in fact, my ticket was only $1.67. As I left, I placed a $5 bill on the
table and slowly walked toward the cash register. While I was paying my
bill of $1.67, the little waitress came walking up and said abruptly, “Mister,
you dropped some money on the table as you left,” and handed me the $5
bill. I returned it to her saying, “Don’t they tip in Tampa?” She broke!
Tears filled her eyes and she asked, “Mister, did you leave me a $5 tip
after I’ve been so rude to you?”
I said to her, “Young lady, you’re not a bad person.
You have a heartache. There is a reason why you were unkind to me, and
I do not feel in any way negative about you.” She continued to cry in that
busy little restaurant filled with people, and she told me a sad story.
Her husband had left her a few days before. She had had to get a job and
the salary was not large enough to care for the children that he had left
with her. She told me that she didn’t want to live! Standing there in the
busy restaurant, right at the entrance, I led her to Jesus Christ. Then
she apologized for having been rude to me. (Praise the Lord! Mission accomplished!
Mission more than accomplished; what a nice hobby!) A couple of hours later
I was walking toward my airplane, and whom did I meet but this little waitress!
I smiled and said, “Are you still saved?”
She shyly responded, through an impish grin, “Yes,
For years I have been trading at a little convenience,
drive-in market called The White Hen Pantry. It is located just a few blocks
from where I live, and it is convenient for me to stop by every morning
on the way to work to purchase a USA TODAY newspaper, and occasionally
I will make other purchases. One day an older lady who often waited on
me there asked me, “What’s wrong with you today?”
I replied, “Nothing. Why do you ask?”
She said, “This is the first time that you have
ever been in here through these years without whistling or singing. There
must be something wrong.” She seemed a little sad and nearly out-of-sorts.
(I immediately saw another opportunity to use my hobby) I told her that
nothing was wrong.
She said, “Then why do you always sing and whistle?”
I said, “Because I am happy.”
She said, “In this old sick world, how can you
be happy?” I looked around and saw that there were no other customers there.
This in itself was a miracle. I think the Lord dispatched an angel out
in the street, telling folks to drive on by for awhile. For some time no
one came in the store, giving me a chance to tell her why I am happy and
to share with her that happiness. In a few moments she received the Author
of that happiness as her Saviour. (Once again mission accomplished! Hobby
Several years passed. One day I was requested
to go visit a man who was very ill. He had asked for me. When I got to
the house he told me why he wanted to see me. The lady whom I had won to
Christ at The White Hen Pantry was his wife. I did not know it, but she
had passed away not long before my visit with him, and he wanted to thank
me for being so nice to his wife and to tell me how much she loved and
appreciated me. I sat there with him on a Sunday afternoon and won him
to Christ. Ah, hobbies have bonuses, don’t they?
The Christian should always be working toward
harmony Needless disagreements should be circumvented and avoided if at
all possible. Most of our disagreements are so useless and needless, and
so in our fundamental churches where we are so interwoven and have so much
interaction, we need to be on constant guard to prevent them.
I love good music. Nearly every day of my life
I take time to listen to classical music. I do not allow this kind of music
to be used in our church because I believe that church music should be
limited to hymns and Gospel songs, but in my personal life I often drive
or eat with the classics as background music. The reason I love good
music is because good music is harmony of sound,
and I want to dwell in harmony, which leads me to choose sound that is
harmonious. This is one reason (among many) that rock music is wrong. It
is sound with disharmony.
I love good literature, especially good poetry.
I read it regularly and I write it often. Poetry is harmony of words and
meter. Bad literature is words with disharmony. Good literature promotes
harmony and is harmony.
I love good art; in fact, I often visit art galleries.
I do this because good art is harmony of colors. Modem art, which often
looks like someone has taken a canvas, squirted ketchup on it, thrown three
raw eggs at it and stirred them with a touch of mustard, framed it and
called it art, this is disharmony of color, whereas good art is harmony
My favorite subject in school was algebra, because
in algebra the balancing of the equation is the bringing of harmony. Here
we have a harmony of numbers. Basically harmony is balancing life’s equations.
I was staying in a hotel in Milford, Ohio. My
room was on the fifth floor. As I got off the elevator, I was facing a
wall. On that wall was a painting. That painting was crooked. I can’t stand
a crooked painting, so I straightened it. I went to my room, unpacked my
bags and decided to go to the restaurant for a bowl of soup. While I was
waiting for the elevator, I turned and looked at the painting. It was crooked
again. I straightened it. I went down to the restaurant, ate a bowl of
soup, came back up to the fifth floor. As I got off the elevator, I noticed
the painting was crooked again. I straightened it. I went to my room, washed,
brushed my teeth, got my Bible, went to the lobby where I was to be met
and driven to the services. As I was waiting for the elevator, I noticed
the painting was crooked again. I straightened it. I went to the church,
preached, and was driven back to the hotel. When I got off the elevator,
I noticed the painting was crooked again. I straightened it. I went to
my room, went to bed, but I couldn’t sleep. All I could think about was,
“Is that painting crooked again?” I got out of bed, put on my pants and
shirt over my pajamas, walked down the hallway to see if the painting was
crooked or straight. It was crooked. I got on the elevator and went downstairs,
walked to the desk and asked the night clerk if she had someone who could
come up and straighten the painting on the fifth floor. She said that the
maintenance men were all off for the evening and that there was no one
who could do it. I asked her if she had a hammer and nails. She said she
did. I said, “Would you let me borrow them so I can straighten that painting
She said, “Sir, why do you want that painting
“Because I can’t sleep!” I said.
She smiled and gave me a hammer and a nail. I
went upstairs, straightened the painting, returned the hammer, returned
to my room and got a good night’s sleep. All was harmonious again.
I cannot stand needless disharmony Complaining
affects me like a shovel being scraped against concrete. I try not to practice
it, and I try not to be around people who do. It promotes disharmony and
an unbalanced equation.
This is the reason that I do not go out to eat
after services. I cannot be around the criticism of God’s people by God’s
people. I simply refuse to listen to negatives. I do not want this computer
on top of my shoulders called a mind to be programmed with negatives. I
have people who need me to lift them, to comfort them, to proclaim victory
to them, and I cannot do it if I live amidst talk that is not harmonious
and if I program my computer with negatives.
A fundamental church should be a refuge, a haven,
a pavilion, a shelter from the irritability of our critique infested society.
If, in fact, a church is exactly this, its members must learn to live with
their disagreements which, because we are human, will exist. If because
we are Christians we can refrain from expressing disappointment of people;
refrain from giving opinions that are not requested; refrain from fighting
for our rights and our areas of authority; refrain from negative statements
such as, “I don’t agree!” or “You’re wrong on that!” and allow each other
to have the possibility of being at least partially right; refrain from
our opinions unless they will help; ask ourselves,
“Who probably has the best chance of being right here?” and refrain from
responding when our opinion is refuted, we will have made at least some
progress toward harmony and peace!
Don’t forget our little hobby, that delightful
little game of balancing human equations and promoting harmony between
ourselves and those whom the will of God has brought close to us often
on a daily basis and with whom the Holy Spirit has led us to interact.
May that same Holy Spirit lead us to interact in such a way so as to treat
properly and with grace those with whom we disagree.
Treatment of the Fallen
Galatians 6:1, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken
in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of
meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.”
Galatians 5:19-24, “Now the works of the flesh
are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness,
idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions,
heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of
the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that
they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the
fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness,
faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that
are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.”
In order to fully understand Galatians 6:1, one
must connect it with Galatians 5:19-24. The one overtaken in a fault in
Galatians 6:1 is no doubt one overtaken in one of the faults mentioned
in Galatians 5:19-21. The one who is spiritual in Galatians 6:1 is the
one who possesses the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22, 23. In other
words, when the one who has the fruit of the Spirit overtakes one who has
the works of the flesh in committing one of these works, he receives instructions
in Galatians 6:1 as to what he is to do. Care must be taken that one who
commits some of the works of the flesh does not take it upon himself to
correct one who commits others of the works of the flesh. In other words,
the one who is guilty of wrath is not qualified to lift the one who is
guilty of fornication. One who is guilty of strife is not qualified to
lift the one who is guilty of lasciviousness. In such a case the blind
leads the blind, the fallen lifts the fallen, and the flesh attempts to
make the flesh spiritual, which, of course, is impossible.
We must be careful, therefore, to address Galatians
6:1 only to the spiritual, to those who walk according to the fruit of
the Spirit, as listed in Galatians 5:22, 23, and do not walk according
to any of the works of the flesh as listed in Galatians 5:19-21.
1. The word, “overtaken, “implies a witness.When
someone who is spiritual witnesses the fleshly acts of someone who walks
according to the flesh, he then may attempt to restore the fallen one.
This verse does not say, “If one who is spiritual hears about someone being
overtaken in a fault, he is to restore him.” It does not say, “If one who
is spiritual suspicions that a brother has been overtaken in a fault, he
is to restore him.” It is very plain that before the guilt is assumed,
it must be proved. Before one is assumed guilty, he must be “overtaken”
in a fault.
2. The word, “fault,” would include any of
the works of the flesh mentioned in Galatians 5:19-21.
3. The word, “spiritual,” is one who embraces
all of Galatians 5:22 and 23.
4. The word, “restore,” means “to give back.”
is the same word used concerning Zacchaeus, who, when he was converted,
restored fourfold to all of those against whom he had sinned. The word
means to bring one back where he was. This does not mean that a person
who is fallen is still qualified to do everything that he used to do without
a time of proving and testing. It DOES mean, however, that the one who
is fallen should be brought back where he was as far as his relationship
with the brethren are concerned. He should be accepted with the same open
arms as before, with the same love as before, with the same compassion
as before, with the same tenderness as before, with the same grace as before,
with the same mercy as before and with the same fellowship as before.
5. The word, “meekness,” is a very interesting
word. It implies an evenness. It is often used concerning objects which
are the same all the way through, such as homogenized milk in contrast
to milk where the cream rises to the top. When the Lord Jesus said, “Blessed
are the meek,” He was saying in a sense, “Blessed are the equal ones,”
or “Blessed are the ones who look up to no one and down to no one,” but
“Blessed are the ones who look with a level eye to everyone.” “Blessed
are the ones who think themselves no worse than anyone and no better than
The story is told about a Baptist church in Washington,
D.C. Many years ago Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes, it is said, joined
this particular Baptist church. Many others joined this particular Baptist
church that same morning. As the names were read, Chief Justice Hughes
was on one end of the line and a poor young man from a minority race was
on the other end of the line. Of course, the pastor started off with the
name of Chief Justice Hughes, when immediately Mr. Hughes interrupted the
pastor and said, “Pastor, start at the other end of the line. The ground
is level at the foot of the cross!” This is what our Lord is saying in
Galatians 6:1. He is reminding us that we are to look down on no one, and
even as we restore a fallen one, we are not to feel or act in a superior
way. We are no better than he.
Neath the light of a kerosene lamp, beside the
heat of a wood stove, with windows stuffed with newspapers to stop the
howling wind from entering, with an outhouse in the backyard and a well
off the back porch, my little mother used to point to me with a povertystricken
finger and say, “Son, you are better than nobody, and you are as good as
anybody! Look down to none; look up to none! Look everybody square in the
eye! We don’t wear the clothes that others wear, and we can’t afford the
house that others can afford, and we can’t drive a car like others drive,
but you are as good as anybody But son, never let theday come when you
feel that you are better than anybody!” This is what God is telling us
here. The restorer is not to look down on the restored.
6. The word, “considering,” means “watching.”This
means watching yourself, not watching the restored one! We must realize
the possibility of the restorer entering into the same sin that was committed
by the restored, and one of the easiest ways to commit such a sin is to
keep our eyes on the sinner rather than on the Saviour, and to be watching
the life of the restored one rather than our own.
We are reminded by the Apostle that all of us
are capable of committing the sins of the rest of us, and that there is
no temptation given to one of us that is not given to all of us. I Corinthians
10: 13, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man:
but God is faithful, Who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye
are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that
ye may be able to bear it.” God is telling us in Galatians 6:1 that one
of the main reasons we are to look everybody square in the eye as equals
and look down on none is that if we do feel superior to the restored, we
may ourselves be tempted by the same temptation he faced and enter into
the same sin that he committed.
7. The words, “also be tempted,” are noteworthy.This
takes us back to Galatians 5:19-21. God is telling us here that those of
us who live in the Spirit as in Galatians 5:22 and 23 possess the potential
of committing any or all of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19-21.
8. The word, “bear,” in Galatians 6:2 implies
that we are to bear the guilt of the fallen and restored one. Then
the word “burdens” in Galatians 6:2 teaches us that we are to enter into
the yoke with them and to pull with them in order to help them to win the
victory and gain strength. God is telling us here that when one sins, all
have sinned. It would be a wonderful day for churches when every member
takes the blame for the sin of one and realizes that the sin of one is
really the sin of all.
When Achan took the forbidden gold, silver and
garment from Jericho, God said, “Israel hath sinned.” Oh, yes, Achan actually
committed the sin, but all of Israel had a part in it. It will be a wonderful
day in our churches when, if a young person goes into sin, the Pastor will
say, “I have sinned.” The Sunday school teacher will say, “I have sinned.”
The departmental superintendent will say, “I have sinned.” The youth director
will say, “I have sinned.” The director of the youth choir will say, “I
have sinned.” The teacher in the Christian school will say, “I have sinned.”
The coach will say, “I have sinned.” The parents will say, “I have sinned.”
The teaching is very plain. An individual’s sin is a corporate sin, for
had we not failed in some way, the fallen would not have failed. Since
we all have sinned when one has fallen, then we all should bear his burden,
as in Galatians 6:2, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the
law of Christ.” We all should lift him up. We all should accept him back.
We all should love him. Since the sin was a corporate one, then the work
of restoration should be a corporate one, and the grace of restoration
should be a corporate grace.
9. The words in Galatians 6:2, “fulfil the
law of Christ,” can be accomplished and completed only when we have restored
the fallen, have realized that we too have fallen in him, and we all have
joined in the act of restoration and in the grace of forgiveness.
Now what is this law of Christ? I think it deals
with I John 2:1, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that
ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus
Christ the righteous.” What a beautiful passage! It is addressed to little
children, perhaps babes in Christ, those to whom it would be easy to fall.
The first admonition is that they sin not. God hates sin, and God does
not want us to sin.
Then He immediately tells us what His law of behavior
is when we do sin. He does not say, “If any man sin, he loses his salvation.”
He does not say, “If any man sin, he is the object of God’s disgust.” He
says, “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father.” Notice the
first person plural, “we.” The Apostle was including himself as a sinner
and as potentially in need of the reclamation mentioned in the following
words of the verse.
Now notice the word, “advocate.” This is the word,
“paraclete,” which is translated “comforter” elsewhere in the Scripture.
It means “someone to run to another’s side.” God is saying here that He
does not want us to sin, but that if we do sin, we have someone to run
to our side, and who is that someone? Praise the Lord, it is Jesus Christ
the righteous! When a Christian falls, Jesus runs to his side to pick him
When I was a little boy, nearly all the streets
we lived on were dirt or gravel roads. I would often run to Mother and
ask if I could go across the street and play with a friend. She would say,
“Why, of course, son, but be careful crossing the street. Stop before you
cross, look both ways, and don’t run! You may fall on the gravel.” I assured
her that I would obey, but as I got closer to the street, my little boyfriend
would scream and say, “Hurry up, Jack! Hurry!” so I would run across the
street, lose my footing in the gravel, fall, and skin my little knee. My
mother would immediately come running to my side. She was disappointed
in me, but she did not spank me. She took me back into the house, wiped
off my knee and cleaned me up, put some medicine on the knee and perhaps
a bandage. I said, “Mommy, can I still go across the street and play?”
She said, “Yes, you may, but son, I am telling
you again: Don’t disobey Mother and run. If you do disobey Mother, I’m
going to have to bring you in the house and make you sit beside me while
I iron so I can keep my eyes on you.” I would go to the yard and start
for the street. Then I would get excited again and rush across the street,
only to fall the second time. Mother would rush to my side the second time
and repeat the care. She would lift me up, take me into the house, wash
me off, care for whatever scratch or cut I may have and then she would
say, “Son, now if you run across that street this time, I’m not going to
let you go across the street to play. You will have to come in and sit
beside me while I iron so I can keep my eyes on you.” I promised that I
would walk across the street, but I forgot the promise, and in the excitement
of getting to my little friend, I stumbled and fell again. Mother ran to
my side, picked me up and very kindly took me into the house and sat me
on a chair beside the ironing board so she could keep her eyes on me.
This is exactly what our blessed Saviour does.
When we fall, He runs to our side to pick us up. He takes care of our wounds
and reminds us not to sin again. When we sin again, He runs to our side
to pick us up and takes care of our wounds and once again reminds us not
to sin. When we keep on sinning, He finally says, “Okay, I can’t let you
stay down there any more. I must bring you up to Heaven so I can keep My
eyes on you.” This He does. He is taking us to Heaven, which is basically
called “the sin unto death,” and is not an act of wrath or violence; it
is another act of love. He does not want us to continue in sin, so in His
mercy He brings us to Heaven so we can be with Him, and He can keep His
eye on us.
This is what I think God means when He tells us
to bear one another’s burdens and so fulfil the law of Christ. When a brother
falls, we are to join Jesus in running to him. In fact, in some cases,
we are to be Jesus running to him, for as much as we have done it unto
one of the least of these His brethren, we have done it unto Him.
Far too many of us would translate this Scripture
in Galatians 6: 1, “If a brother be overtaken in a fault, criticize him,”
or “If a brother be overtaken in a fault, slander him,” or “If a brother
be overtaken in a fault, try to ruin him,” or “If a brother be overtaken
in a fault, try to destroy him. ” In far too many cases, this is our manner
of treatment to the fallen. Thank God, it is not His manner and it is not
His desire for us to treat them in such a way.
Mark 16:7, “But go your way, tell His disciples
and Peter that He goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see Him,
as He said unto you.” Notice the two words, “and Peter.” What a blessed
statement! The ladies have come to the tomb. They find the stone rolled
away and a man dressed in white at the sepulchre. He is a messenger from
God, and what is that message? “Go tell the disciples and Peter that Jesus
is risen. ” Why did he single out Peter? We know why At our Lord’s crucifixion,
Peter had joined himself with the wrong crowd. He had warmed himself by
the Devil’s fire, had walked afar off, and had denied the faith, the church
and his Lord. He had even cursed. He was a fallen saint, not fallen from
grace, but fallen in grace. Nevertheless, he was fallen. How sweet it is
and how tender it is that God’s messenger brought God’s message that the
ladies go and announce the resurrection of Christ to the disciples “and
Peter.” God was reminding us that He has a special love for the fallen.
God loves all of us, but He has a special unique love for some. He says,
“Go tell the disciples and the burdened,” “Go tell the disciples and the
lonely,” “Go tell the disciples and the fallen.”
I do not know all that is behind these two little
words, “and Peter.” Perhaps if he had not said “and Peter,” they would
not have told Peter, because perhaps they would not have thought of him
as still being a disciple, or maybe God wanted Peter to know in a special
way that He still loved him and that Peter still belonged to Him.
These two little words not only show His love
for the fallen, but they show His care for the fallen and for each individual.
God is saying, “Peter, the Christians may not care any more, but I do!”
“The Christians may not be concerned about your restoration, but I am.”
“The Christians may have given up on you, but I haven’t.” So He gives the
message to the angel to give: “Tell His disciples and Peter. “
There is something else that God is saying with
these two precious words, “and Peter.” He is letting Peter know of His
forgiveness. Can you imagine Peter getting the message that God had sent
to him a special word? God was saying to Peter, “You are forgiven. I want
you where you were. I love you as I loved you before. I need you as I needed
you before. I care as much as I ever cared, and Peter, you are forgiven!”
At this moment this author is that messenger.
He says to that person who has fallen whose eyes are scanning these pages:
God said, “Go tell the disciples and you. ” And he says to the members
of the church who have not fallen, “When you tell the good news, tell the
fallen too. Include the fallen!”
Then God is also reminding us of His awareness.
He was saying to Peter, “I know you are there. You may think you have gone
so far that I cannot see you, but you haven’t! I know your address! I know
where you live! I know where you work! I know your motives! I am aware
of you, Peter, and you won’t get beyond that awareness!”
How beautiful! How wonderfully sweet that God
sent His messenger to tell of His resurrection, and to send the ladies
to tell the disciples . . . and Peter!
May God help His churches to love the fallen,
to pray for the fallen, to run to the fallen, to lift up the fallen, to
welcome the fallen, to strengthen the fallen, to carry the burden of the
fallen, to share the guilt of the fallen and, by God’s grace, to reclaim
and restore the fallen!
Romans 14:1, “Him that is weak in the faith receive
ye, but not to doubtful disputations.”
The word, “weak,” in this passage means “without
power” or “little power.”
I have often said that there are four groups of
people in the First Baptist Church of Hammond. Group # 1 is composed of
those who accept what the preacher says because the preacher says it. Group
#2 is composed of those who believe what the preacher says and accept it
because they already believed it. Somewhere else they were grounded in
the faith, and then to their surprise they found someone who agreed with
them years after they thought such preachers were extinct. Group #3 is
that group of people who listen to what the preacher says, consider the
pros and cons and decide whether or not to accept it. Group #4 is that
group of people in the church who believe nothing the preacher says, but
they love to hear him say it. Now it matters not whether these four groups
comprise the membership of a local church, but one thing is for sure: There
are different degrees of strength among our church members! Some church
members are strong. Some have fallen, some are heartbroken, and, yes, some
are weak. The Bible does not leave us in wonder about the treatment of
these weak ones.
Notice again Romans 14:1, “Him that is weak in
the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations.” Notice especially
the words, “in the faith.” These are saved people about whom the Apostle
is speaking. Yet, they are weak Christians.
1. We are to receive them. Notice
the words, “receive ye.” God is telling us to receive the weak in the faith.
This means that we are to welcome them. We are to have special interest
in them. We are not to remind them of their weakness, but we are to accept
them as brothers in Christ and make them feel as one of us, for, of a fact,
2. We are not to receive them to “doubtful
disputations.” We are not to engage in arguments with them about
our differences. This is what preaching is for! This is what Bible teaching
This is explained in Romans 14:2 and 3, “For one
believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs.
Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which
eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him.” Here we have
one Christian who eats meats and another who is a vegetarian. They are
not to engage in doubtful disputations.
We find another example in verses 5 and 6, “One
man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike.
Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the
day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to
the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for
he giveth God thanks: and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not,
and giveth God thanks.” One Christian observes a certain day; another Christian
does not. They are not to engage in doubtful disputations concerning this.
One Christian observes Easter as a holy day. Another strong Christian who
knows the Bible knows that Easter is not a holy day. Colossians 2:14-17,
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which
was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross;
and having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a shew of them openly,
triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or
in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath
days: which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
God is telling us that we should not get with the weaker brother and argue
with him about such matters.
I preach all over America. Nearly every week I
am with someone who would disagree with me on some matter that could be
called a doubtful disputation. For example, I do not believe a church choir
should wear robes. I go to many churches whose choirs are robed. I do not
engage in doubtful disputations with the pastor concerning this matter.
I go to churches whose music is different from
ours. It is not sinful music; it is just not what we prefer here at First
Baptist Church. I do not engage in doubtful disputations concerning this
3. We are to withdraw ourselves from every
weak brother who has a disorderly walk. II Thessalonians 3:6,
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that
ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and
not after the tradition which he received of us.” This does not mean that
we are to be unkind to anyone. The Bible is very plain concerning our grace
and kindness to all, but it is also very plain concerning the fact that
we are not to engage in social life or in regular fellowship with some
Christians. I do not believe for a second that this is talking about church
membership. I do not believe it is talking about the weak person or the
disorderly person not being welcome in the church services. I think God
is telling the individual Christians to watch the crowd with whom they
run and to associate with strong Christians. The word “withdraw” means
to “bend away.” Though we are to be nice to people who walk disorderly,
we are certainly not supposed to run with their crowd.
The word “disorderly” here is a military term
which means “out of step” or “out of rank.” Of course, in the light of
all Scripture we are to be gracious and kind, forbearing and patient with
these weak ones, but we should not walk with them, spend long seasons of
time with them, unless, of course, we are helping them to become stronger
by teaching them the Word or explaining to them the Christian life.
This is explained again in II Thessalonians 3:14,
“And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have
no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” Note the words, “have no
company with him.” This means we are not to mingle with them. Sure, we
see them at church. We shake their hands. We welcome them. We try to strengthen
them, but we do not enter into social activities with them. Often Christians
attempt to do so in order to strengthen the weak, and inevitably such a
relationship weakens the strong!
We have the same teaching in I Corinthians 5:11,
“But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is
called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer,
or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat.” Notice
especially the words, “not to keep company” Once again we have the idea
of not mixing, mingling, or socializing with them.
Some of the sins of these weak ones are mentioned
in verse 11. Of course, we all know what a fornicator is. We all know what
an idolater is. We know what a drunkard is. We know what an extortioner
is. The word “covetous” means “greedy” The word “railer” means “an evil
speaker” or “critical.” It is very plain that with people who criticize,
people who are greedy, people who are fornicators, people who are drunkards,
people who are extortioners, etc., we are not to keep company!
Notice the last eight words of I Corinthians 5:11,
“with such an one no not to eat.” Here we have a simple explanation. Eating
is a sign of socializing, a symbol of sharing pleasures and fellowship.
‘Ibis means that if someone is critical and asks you to go out to eat with
him, you are not supposed to go. You are supposed to be nice to him and
courteous to him and kind to him, but you are not supposed to have time
to accept his invitation and go out to eat. What God is saying is that
He does not want us to sit down and socialize with the weak Christian,
whether he be greedy, a fornicator or a critic. Now, of course, in our
Christian society the fornicator is in a class far beneath the critic,
but in God’s economy they are in the same class, and though we are to be
kind and gracious to both, we are not to keep company, mix, mingle, socialize
or sit down to eat with them.
About the same thing is mentioned in Psalm 1:1-3,
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor
standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate
day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water,
that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither;
and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” Notice that we are not to walk
in the counsel of the ungodly We are not to stand in the way of sinners.
We are not to sit in the seat of the scornful. In other words, we are not
to run or walk with the weak Christian (that is, the fornicator, greedy,
idolater, drunkard, gossip or critic). We are not to stand around with
him. We are not to sit down to converse with him unless we are teaching
him spiritual things.
4. We are to support the weak. I
Thessalonians 5:14, “Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly,
comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.”
Acts 20:35, “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought
to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He
said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” This verse implies that
we are to be like an anchor. We stay the same. We are not supposed to be
pulled away from our position by them! This, in many cases, will happen
if we socialize with them, but we are to be the anchor, the unswerving,
unwavering, unchanging rock to which they can hold. We don’t sip cocktails
with them so we can help them! We don’t go mixed bathing with them so we
can let them know we are “good old boys.” We don’t use their language in
order to attempt to straighten them. We stay solid. We believe what we
always believed. We stand where we always stood. They can lean on us for
This does not mean that we are to support their
weakness; it means we are to support the weak by our being strong and unwavering.
The word, “support,” here is used concerning a foundation. We are to be
the foundation on which the weak can stand, the rock on which they can
lean, and when they decide to come back, they will find us where they left
us, living in the same Book, walking with the same God, standing on the
same truths, living with the same convictions. If they come back and find
us gone, we cannot support them.
5. We are to bear the infirmities of the weak.
15:1, “We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak,
and not to please ourselves.” This means patience toward their weakness,
but not acceptance of it. This means that we should be longsuffering with
them while they are in sin, but in no way leave the impression that we
condone the sin.
In summary, the Christian is to receive the weak,
support the weak, love the weak, be kind to the weak, help strengthen the
weak and do all within his power to lead him back to Christian strength.
On the other hand, he is not to socialize with him or mix and mingle with
him in a social manner.
As a young preacher in east Texas many years ago
I got to thinking one day, and I realized that I was chasing off the people
who were not full grown. I expected everyone to carry the load that I carried.
I was not willing to get anything from those from whom I could not get
everything. I was destroying the people who did not give all. It was sort
of an “all or nothing at all” situation. I distinctly remember the day
when I decided to accept Christians as they are and do my best to make
them what they ought to be.
At that time I sought some answers concerning
my weak people, and I came up with several reasons why they were weak,
1. Some were carrying too light a load. They
could not become strong because they did not carry a heavy enough load
to make them strong. I read Galatians 6:1-6, “Brethren, if a man be overtaken
in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of
meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s
burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to
be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man
prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone,
and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. Let him that
is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”
I then read Matthew 11:28-29, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are
heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn
of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your
Recently I was talking to a young man. He shared
the burden of his heart with me, and believe me, he did have a heavy burden!
After we had talked for awhile, I suggested that we pray together. He prayed
first. He started off by praying, “Dear Lord, take away my burden.” Before
I knew it, I had interrupted his prayer, and I said, “Lord, don’t do it.”
(This is so unlike me. I do not ever recall doing such a thing before.)
He looked up and said, “Brother Hyles, don’t you think God ought to take
my burden away?”
I said, “No, I don’t.”
He then bowed his head and began to pray again.
He prayed, “Lord, then don’t take my burden away. Give me strength to bear
To my surprise I interrupted again and said,
“Lord, don’t do it!”
He stopped praying again and asked me why I had
asked the Lord not to give him strength to bear his burden.
I told him, “Son, you don’t get strength for your
burdens; you get strength from your burdens. The burden is what makes you
strong. The strongest Christians are those who have the most burdens, and
they did not get strong in order to bear their burdens; they got strong
by bearing their burdens.”
Suppose a young man asked his parents for a set
of weights for Christmas. Sure enough, he receives them as a gift from
his parents. The young man doesn’t look at the weights and say, “Lord,
take my burden away.” No, he asked for the burden; he requested it because
he wanted to be strong. Neither did the young man say, “Lord, make me strong
enough to lift these weights.” Not at all! The very purpose of the weights
was to make him strong. If he were strong enough to lift the weights before
he got them, he didn’t need them.
It seems that almost every time a Christian has
problems, he attributes it to the Devil. Preachers say to me often, “The
Devil sure is fighting.” Now it just may be that God is giving you a set
of weights for Christmas in order to make you strong.
In cities all over America football players are
in weight rooms. They are not enjoying the perspiring, the groaning, the
grunting that they are doing, but they want to be strong. They have a battle
to fight on football fields across America. If they win the battle, they
must be strong. If they are strong, they must have burdens to bear and
weights to lift.
There are battles that the Christian must fight.
In order to win, he must be strong. If he is strong, he has to lift some
weights; he has to pump some iron; he has to have some burdens. The more
the weights and the bigger the weights, the stronger is the man. The more
the burdens and the bigger the burdens that the Christian bears, the stronger
he becomes, but many of our people are weak because they bear too light
2. Many are weak because they bear too soon
a load. A few days after someone is converted, we approach him
about teaching a Sunday school class, and before long he is so burdened
down that the load is too heavy for him to bear. Bear in mind, the weight
lifter starts off with the light weights first and gradually increases
the load that he lifts.
3. Some are weak because they carry too heavy
a load. A novice weight lifter does not start by bench pressing
300 pounds. That is too heavy a load for him. Many Christians have taken
up a load that was too heavy instead of gradually coming to that load,
and they have been unable to lift the weights. A young man who is given
a set of weights cannot get strong by trying to pick up a weight that he
cannot lift. It is the lifting of the weight that makes one strong, and
the weight lifted must be one that can be lifted! No one gets strong pulling
on a weight that remains on the floor. Care must be taken not to overload
the Christian and give him too heavy a load. This will cause him to be
4. Many are weak because they have the wrong
kind of load. Each Christian should know what type of a load
he can carry. For example, I have many assistant pastors. Their load levels
are different. Their talents and gifts are different. I must be careful
not to place them in areas where they are not capable. Many Christians
have been given tasks for which they were not suited. They became discouraged
and later, weak.
“Weak” is a relative term. There are degrees of
weakness and degrees of strength. It is easy for someone who is strong
to become impatient with one who is weak. It is also easy for the strong
ones to become critical of the weak and even to disdain them. Some in our
churches look at the weak with disgust. On the other hand, others choose
the weak as fellowsocializers and best friends. Neither of these positions
is the wise one. The wise and Scriptural position is for the strong Christian
to encourage, to support, to receive and to be kind to the weak. On the
other hand, he is not to expose himself to unnecessary interaction with
him, lest the weakness become contagious and the strong becomes weak instead
of the weak becoming strong.
Now read Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you, brethren,
mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which
ye have learned; and avoid them.” The word, “avoid” here does not mean
“to shun.” It does not condone the action of the Pharisee. It simply means
to “bend away” from them.
There is no doctrine in the Bible any more plainly
presented than the doctrine of separation, and the Word of God is filled
with examples of people who did not practice this separation. Consequently,
they were led to ruin. Balaam sold a nation into intermarriage with idolaters
because he ran with the wrong crowd. Jehoshaphat destroyed his nation by
running with the wrong crowd and associating with the wicked King Ahab
and his rebellious wife, Jezebel. This association led Jehoshaphat’s son
to marry Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. What Jezebel did to
the northern kingdom, Athaliah did to the southern kingdom. Before Peter
cursed, swore and denied the faith, he was warming at the wrong fire and
following the Lord afar off with the wrong crowd. Choosing to run with
the wrong crowd ruined Lot, turned his wife to a pillar of salt, and wrecked
the lives of his children and their children. Running with the wrong crowd
caused Abraham to father a heathen nation begun by his illegitimate son,
The Bible is very plain. We are not to run with
the wrong crowd. And, yes, there is a wrong crowd in every church and every
Christian school! We are to love them, to support them, to receive them,
to be kind to them, to be gracious to them, to be patient with them, but
we are not to keep company with them, according to I Corinthians 5:11.
When we embrace their weakness, we do not strengthen them; we meet them
on their level instead of on ours. We strengthen them by holding our position
and remaining strong so they will have an anchor that is firm and a foundation
that is solid when they return. Hence, they become strong because of our
strength. This is God’s plan concerning our treatment of the weak.
In every area of our lives we need strength around
us. One of the weaknesses of our society is the attempt by the masses to
weaken the strong. Business needs strong management and labor will be wise
to keep it so. Many a business has gone under because labor weakened management,
thereby killing the goose that laid the golden egg.
The same thing is true concerning politics. We
need a strong President, and the opposing political party is very unwise
in its attempt to weaken the power of the presidency and of the President.
He needs our support, our prayers and our encouragement for him to be strong.
One of the sad things about the press in our nation
is its constant attempt to weaken leadership with its constant desire to
sell papers and magazines. It continues to explore and seek the weaknesses
of the strong in an effort for the spectacular to be printed. In so doing,
we are lessening our own security by weakening the ones who offer it to
In professional sports we are seeing the same
thing. The athlete gets rich at the expense of the owners, not realizing
that to weaken the ownership may someday cost him his job and destroy the
sport by which he makes his livelihood.
America needs strength! Wise is that nation that
strengthens the hands of its leadership, which in turn can offer security
and protection to followship.
Thank God for strong people! However, even in
our churches they often tend to be disliked. We love to pull for the underdog,
and there is something in us that wants to see the strong toppled, but
we need the strong, and when they fall they fall on us and rob us of a
security that we need from strength.
Our nation is in desperate need of some heroes.
Baseball needs a Babe Ruth, a Dizzy Dean, a Ted Williams and a Joe DiMaggio.
Football needs a Red Grange and Bronko Nagurski. Boxing needs a Jack Dempsey
and a Joe Louis. Golf needs an Arnold Palmer, a Ben Hogan and a Bob Jones.
Politics needs a Theodore Roosevelt and a George Washington. The military
needs a Douglas MacArthur, a General George Patton. The pulpit needs a
Dwight Moody, a Billy Sunday and a Charles Spurgeon. Law enforcement needs
a J. Edgar Hoover. Coaching needs a Vince Lombardi or a George Halas. This
is not the day for the hero or the legend. We seem to want to pull them
down to our level. We want to homogenize everybody, and we even attack
the principles of the dead in order to destroy yesterday’s heroes while
we destroy today’s We flounder for lack of leadership and at the same time
attempt to make leadership flounder.
We should encourage strong people. They are the
most lonely people in the church. They are the most criticized people in
the church, and they need our love, respect and confidence in order to
compensate for those who are trying to shoot them down.
In doing this we must be careful to understand
that strength has weakness, and we must not be disenchanted with our heroes
when we discover that they too are made of flesh.
I have known personally and intimately the greatest
preachers of this and the last generation. I was a warm personal friend
to Dr. Bob Jones, Sr. I knew in a very personal way Dr. R. G. Lee and was
an honorary pallbearer at his funeral. For 22 years I traveled with Dr.
John R. Rice, and perhaps I knew him better than anybody on earth except
for his own family. I preached his funeral message. I was a close friend
of Dr. Bill Rice, and for over a third of a century I was a good friend
with Evangelist Lester Roloff. I spoke at the funeral service for Dr. Bill
Rice and also preached Dr. Roloff’s funeral message. Dr. Ford Porter was
my good friend, and I preached his funeral message. Then, of course, I
shared the same platform with such men as Jacob Gartenhaus, B. R. Lakin,
G. B. Vick and others. They were all great men, and they were all my heroes,
but I was well aware that each was human and possessed weaknesses. Some
of them fought each other, thereby revealing to me their humanity, but
in no way taking from me my estimation of their greatness.
We must thank God for the strong. We must realize
their humanity, but we must not let that realization shake our confidence
in them. They are great men, not perfect men. They are strong men, but
not omnipotent men. They are wise men, but not omniscient men. We need
men of their caliber as our leaders.
Paul was a great man and Peter was a great man;
yet they had personal problems between themselves. Galatians 2:11, “But
when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he
was to be blamed.”
Barnabas was a great man and Paul was a great
man, but they were human as is manifested in Acts 15:36-40, “And some days
after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in
every city where we have preached the Word of the Lord, and see how they
do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark.
But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them
from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention
was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other:
and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; and Paul chose Silas,
and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God.”
They had a sharp disagreement.
John Wesley and George Whitefield had problems
getting along together. The same is true with Calvin and Luther, Harry
Truman and Douglas MacArthur and many other great men. Though we should
not deify them and should accept them as human, we still need to exalt
them, to pray for them, to honor them and to strengthen them in order that
they in turn as our leaders may give us strength and direction.
In every church there are strong men–men with
leadership ability–men whom the church needs. Such men should be respected,
prayed for, honored and followed. They should not be open game for criticism
and gossip! Because of their strength they may not be as likable as others
in the church. Because of their strong wills, their manner may not be as
palatable as that of more gentle people, but we need them and should hold
them up before the Lord and encourage them.
Every church has some ladies who are more zealous
than others. Their manner may not be as gentle and as appealing because
they are leaders of the ladies and girls. They are needed. Such ladies
lead departments in the Sunday school, direct children’s choirs, build
ladies’ Sunday school classes, work as supervisors in college dormitories,
teach in the Christian school and perform multitudes of other important
tasks in the work of God. Because of their leadership abilities as they
lead other women and children, they are often the object of criticism,
especially by men, and especially by men who are not strong leaders and
have become jealous of the leadership ability of the ladies who are leaders.
Don’t misunderstand me; I am not advocating that ladies lead men. The Bible
is very plain about that, but let us thank God for those ladies who are
strong and who can administrate in areas where men would not and could
not lead. May God’s people look at the strong and thank God for them.
We are all flesh, and the best of us is weak,
but God has ordained that every human organization have leadership. A city
needs a mayor. A state needs a governor. A nation needs a king or a president
or a prime minister. A team needs a coach. A school needs a principal.
A church needs a pastor. A business needs an executive. A college needs
a president. A classroom needs a teacher. A dormitory needs a supervisor.
Now we must choose the strong from among us to fill these positions. When
chosen they should be admired, loved and honored. When the team weakens
the coach, games are lost. When the student weakens the teacher, he weakens
his education. When the country weakens the president, it weakens its national
security. When a church weakens a pastor, it loses its power. When a state
or a city weakens its governor or mayor, it promotes anarchy and confusion.
Let us not fall for Satan’s method of luring the
follower into criticism and jealousy of the leader. We do not strengthen
ourselves when we weaken the strong; we rather weaken ourselves when we
weaken the strong, for God has given us the strong to strengthen us. Anarchy
not only weakens the nation, but it weakens the people of that nation,
and those who are guilty of anarchy are weaker than they would have been
had they been submissive. A submissive people is a strong people. A submissive
team is a strong team. A submissive student body forms a good school. A
submissive membership makes a great church. Any other plan is one that
is derived from Satan himself when, as an archangel, he rebelled against
God and sought to exalt himself above God and set himself on God’s throne.
In so doing, he hurt himself! He certainly did not hurt God! God was still
God after Satan’s rebellion, but Satan was no longer an archangel, and
his angels were no longer God’s angels. He and his angels fell! Followers
always fall when they topple their leaders!
At this point in American history a tragic thing
is happening. Liberal politicians seem to have more animosity toward Mr.
Reagan than they do toward Mr. Gorbachev. They spend more time attacking
American conservatism than they do attacking Russian communism, and an
excessive hatred of communism seems to be a greater crime than communism
itself. The liberal politicians seem bent on joining the liberal press
for the destruction of any conservative leader who is strong. Then that
conservative leader represents our nation at summit meetings. His hands
are tied. His power is limited. His plans are paralyzed, and the weak leader
that we have created goes to represent us. By the time he is at the treaty
table, he has been made so powerless by his own fellow Americans that his
position is weakened–not because of the attack of the enemy but because
of the attack from our own citizens!
The same is true in a church. Parents often feel
that there is some merit in criticizing the pastor. Perhaps it gives them
some sense of power if they can speak ill of a strong leader. Their children
hear this ill speaking and lose confidence in the pastor. Then the day
comes when the child needs the pastor and only the pastor can help, but
by that time the child has lost confidence in his preacher! The parents
have weakened the leader so that the leader cannot help their own flesh
Not only are we trying to weaken leadership and
in so doing weaken ourselves, but we are trying to destroy people who have
been gone from the scene for years. Not only do we want to tear down today’s
heroes; we want to destroy yesterday’s heroes. Not only does the liberal
press, the liberal politician and the liberal educator seek to homogenize
all of us today and seek to bring down any strong leader, but they unite
in attacking the memory of our past heroes, so they investigate in order
to find everything negative possible about J. Edgar Hoover, George Washington,
Douglas MacArthur, Dwight Eisenhower, Babe Ruth and others.
America’s youth today are looking for heroes.
Let us help them find some. Let us close ranks and thank God for those
who are strong and pray for God to give us other strong people whom we
may follow, encourage and strengthen!
Someone has said that preaching is pouring back
to the congregation in a flood what is received from them in a vapor. Some
few, thank God, can capture this vapor, translate it into a flood and return
it to the audience. Leadership is the same way. Let us constantly send
them the vapor so that they may return to us a flood!
Ezekiel 34:3, “Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you
with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock.”
Isaiah 61:1, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon
me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek;
he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the
captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound.”
One of the main purposes of a church is its ministry
to the heartbroken. Someone has said, “He who preaches to broken hearts
will never want for a congregation.” I have often said that behind every
face there is a broken heart, and behind every smile there is a reason
to cry. As I look out over my congregation on a Sunday morning, I see those
whose hearts are broken because of incurable illnesses in their own body
or in the body of a loved one. I see those whose hearts are broken because
they are under attack; they are suffering severe criticism or are objects
of a malicious scandal. I see a couple whose daughter has just left her
husband to run off with another man. I see a lady whose daughter is pregnant
and not married. I see a lady whose husband has just left her to rear the
children alone. I see a man whose business has just faced bankruptcy I
see a family whose son has broken their hearts. I see children whose daddy
has just forsaken them, and I see multitudes of others whose hearts are
broken. God’s people should take extra care in their treatment of these
1. Act as near normal as possible. They
want to know of your love, but they don’t want to be singled out for special
attention. Just let them know that nothing has changed. Assure them that
your relationship is the same as always, but do not do this verbally Do
it by treating them as you always have. Just let them know by your normal
treatment that all is the same.
2. It is usually best not to mention their
problem. To do so may open a wound that has been closing. It may cause
a fresh hurt that is unnecessary. It is often best not to say such things
as, “I heard about your burden,” “I know about your problem,” etc.
3. Do not try to figure out why. It
is so easy for God’s people to become an Eliphaz, a Zophar or a Bildad,
who were the “friends” of Job. One of them came and said, “Job, I know
why you are having your trouble; you are not spiritual enough!” Another
came and said, “Job, I know why you are having your trouble; you have left
the traditions of the fathers!” Another came and said, “Job, I know why
are having your trouble; you have sinned and are being punished!” The truth
is that none of us knows why God does what He does, and more often than
not, God’s people face troubles and heartache because of reasons other
than punishment for sin. It is not our job to figure out why; it is our
job to be loving, thoughtful and helpful when our brothers and sisters
have broken hearts.
4. Don’t tell them of any criticism that you
have heard. Years ago we had a man in our church who walked with me
from my office to the pulpit on a regular basis. Just before I would leave
him to walk to the platform, he would put his arm around me or take my
hand and with emotion say something like this: “I’m for you, Preacher .
. . no matter what they say!” All during the service I kept wondering,
“What did they say?” The truth is, that man loved me, but he did not comfort
One little girl wrote me a note and said, “Dear
Brother Hyles. I love you in spite of the fact that nobody else does.”
Somehow or other that note was not as comforting to me as it was intended
Recently a member of the church who is a very
lovely Christian came to me and said, “Brother Hyles, I want you to know
that my family is for you in this battle.” Then I started to wonder, “What
is the battle? What battle are they talking about?”
5. Use unsaid words to express sympathy. Perhaps
a squeeze of the hand, a pat on the back, or a touch of the elbow is all
that is necessary. With those little gestures one is saying, “Everything
is the same. Nothing has changed. I still have confidence in you, and I
still love you. I am still your friend, and I still think you are a good
6. Show confidence in them. Not
long ago a preacher friend of mine had his heart broken by the actions
of a married child. As soon as I heard of it, I talked with him and asked
him if he would be a speaker on a program with me. This was simply an expression
of my saying, “I still have confidence in you, and I’m your friend! Nothing
Several years ago I had a man lined up to come
to speak for one of the ministries of our church. Between the time that
he was scheduled and the time for the speaking engagement, he had a broken
heart that could have made him fearful that some of us had lost confidence
in him. I did not write him and tell him what I had heard. I did not call
him to assure him of my love in spite of his broken heart. I simply wrote
him a little note confirming his speaking engagement with me and telling
him that I was looking forward to having him. That was all that was necessary.
His heart was broken. I did not want to remind him of the cause, but I
simply wanted him to know that nothing had changed.
Express your love and friendship to the heartbroken.
There are many ways that this could be done. Years ago when some slander
had been spoken by wicked tongues concerning my good friend, Dr. John R.
Rice, my heart was grieved! A few days later we were speaking together.
As he walked on the platform and sat down beside me, I reached over and
squeezed his knee and said simply, “I’m your friend.” Years passed. Careless
lips and malicious tongues chose to speak evil of me. The next time Dr.
Rice and I were together, he reached over from his chair on the platform
and squeezed my knee and whispered, “I’m your friend.” He did not need
to say any more. I knew what he meant. On one occasion Dr. Curtis Hutson
did the same thing to me, and as I remember on another occasion, I did
the same thing to him.
Many years ago Evangelist Charles Weigle suffered
the heartbreak of his life. His wife decided she did not want to be a preacher’s
wife. She took their child and left him. The great heart of Dr. Lee Roberson
simply contacted Dr. Weigle and asked if he would come and live at Tennessee
Temple College and Highland Park Baptist Church. Dr. Weigle agreed to do
so. Dr. Roberson was simply saying to Dr. Weigle and the whole world, “I
have confidence in you still. I love you still. I’m your friend still,
and nothing has changed.”
This love and friendship could be expressed by
a gift sent seemingly for no reason at all, or an attractive card or a
tender embrace or the touch of the hand or an arm around the shoulder.
The one consoling the heartbroken should not do
it too strongly. Just let the brokenhearted one know that all is the same;
nothing has changed.
7. Try to decide for what the heartbroken person
is reaching. Some people want and feel that they need different means
of expression of confidence and love. If you know someone well enough to
know that they need more than the aforementioned reminders, give it to
them. If you feel someone reaching out for a certain kind of assurance,
give it to them.
Leaders need this kind of assurance as well as
followers. I am thinking now about one of the greatest preachers in America
whose daughter broke his heart, and he has had to rear her son. I am thinking
of another one of the greatest preachers in America who one day on a platform
pointed to the balcony and said to me, “nose two little girls up there
are my granddaughters.” His son had divorced his wife; the lady in the
balcony with the two children was his former daughter-in-law, and the children
were his grandchildren.
One of the ten best known preachers in America
had a daughter who went into the world, broke his heart and defied everything
that her daddy preached. It is said that Billy Sunday stood to speak in
a great tabernacle. Just as he began to speak, someone handed him a newspaper
that told of his son committing an awful sin, and perhaps had been arrested.
Supposedly Billy Sunday grabbed his chest and shouted, “Preach Christ,”
and slumped to the floor.
One of the greatest preachers in America had a
son who became a liberal and destroyed the work of his dad after his dad
Heartbreak comes to everybody, in every walk of
life and on every scale of spiritual growth and progress. Let us treat
the heartbroken with a tender, subtle awareness that nothing has changed.
Before concluding this chapter, I must speak a
word to the heartbroken. When something happens in your life that causes
you to wonder if you will still be respected and accepted, don’t withdraw
from us! We still love you! You belong to us! We still have confidence
in you! Let us have a chance to assure you of our love and confidence!
Don’t leave us! Don’t leave your church and go to another! Stay with those
who love you! You need them, and they need you! You need their love! They
need to love you! You need their expression of confidence, and they need
to give it!
Ephesians 6:5-9, “Servants,
be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with
fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with
eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will
of God from the heart; with good will doing service, as to the Lord, and
not to men: knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same
shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. And, ye masters,
do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your
Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with Him.”
Ruth 2:4, “And, behold, Boaz came
from Bethlehem, and said unto the reapers, The Lord be with you. And they
answered him, The Lord bless thee.”
In the New Testament there are three
titles given for the main position in a New Testament church. One is the
title of pastor; another is the title of elder; another is the title of
bishop. All three of these titles represent the same position.
I Peter 5:14, “The elders which
are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings
of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed: Feed
the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not
by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the
flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown
of glory that fadeth not away.”
You will notice in these verses,
all three of these titles are mentioned. They all deal with the same office.
Each of these titles represents a unique treatment that the leader is to
give to his followers. For example, the title of elder represents experience
and wisdom. The leader is to give to the follower access to his wisdom.
This could come through preaching, teaching, counseling, etc.
Now consider the title of pastor.
This is another word for shepherd. The leader of the church is to give
his followers the protection that a shepherd gives to the sheep. He is
to warn the followers of things that would harm them even as the shepherd
did to the sheep, and he is to stand vigil over them to keep these things
from doing them harm.
The third title is that of bishop.
This word means overseer. This means the pastor is the overseer of the
follower. For the good of the follower, the pastor is to oversee all of
the work of the church and be sure that it is done properly and that the
follower may have the kind of church that he needs in order that he may
be all that God wants him to be.
Much is said about the way the follower
should treat the leader, and this is right. Not enough is said concerning
the way the leader should treat the follower. Oh, yes, the follower is
taught to obey his spiritual leader. Hebrews 13:7, “Remember them which
have the rule over you, who have spoken unto you the word of God: whose
faith follow, considering the end of their conversation.” He is likewise
taught to submit himself to his spiritual leader. Hebrews 13:17, “Obey
them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch
for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with
joy, and not with grief. for that is unprofitable for you.” These are words
that include having faith in, yielding to, giving in, following, etc. There
are other places in the Bible that remind us that God’s people are to follow
Then there are Scriptures that remind
the pastors regarding their treatment of other pastors. The New Testament
church had a multiplicity of pastors. Each church would have several pastors,
just as is the case in the First Baptist Church of Hammond. There is a
certain way that these pastors are to treat each other. I Timothy 1:1-2,
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the commandment of God our Saviour,
and Lord Jesus Christ, which is our hope; unto Timothy, my own son in the
faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our
Lord.” I Timothy 5:17, “Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy
of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine.”
Read these verses carefully. Paul is writing to one elder, or pastor, Timothy
He is telling him how to treat other elders or pastors. In I Timothy 5:19
he reminds him that he is not to believe an accusation without witnesses.
He reminds him of the respect and honor that he is to give to other pastors.
Many pastors preach and teach from these passages in an effort to teach
their people how to treat the preacher. I do not think in so doing they
do an injustice to the Scriptures. I do believe, however, that the pastor
should pause to realize that the primary teaching of this verse deals with
the way pastors should treat each other, not only pastors within the same
church, but pastors of churches within the same community, state, nation,
Concerning this subject, I always
defend the pastor. When I hear something negative about a man of God, I
do not believe it! When there is a battle between a pastor and laymen,
I defend the pastor! I am not always right in this, but I am right more
times than wrong, and I’m right more times than if I use my own judgment
and intuition. It has been my policy through the years to defend God’s
man and God’s men. Sometimes I have been proven wrong, but I have never
been sorry for the policy.
I will not counsel or give an appointment
to a member of another area fundamental church without a written note from
the pastor of that church requesting that I counsel with his member.
I will not visit nor allow my staff
or members to visit the home of the member of another fundamental church
in the area. This is true even if this person brings his family to visit
our services. This is also true even if he checks the little square at
the bottom of the visitor’s card, signifying that he is interested in joining
First Baptist Church of Hammond. I am for God’s men! I know they are not
perfect, but I believe the finest group of men in the world is that group
which composes God’s men. I am glad that it is still news when one goes
bad. This means that most do not!
Not only does God admonish us concerning
the way the follower should treat the pastor and the way the pastors should
treat each other, but it admonishes us concerning the way the pastor should
treat the followers, or for that matter, the way any leader should treat
1. The leader should give the
same loyalty to the follower that he expects from the follower.Much
is said about loyalty from the bottom up. More should be said about loyalty
from the top down. Oftentimes leaders come to me expressing their dismay
and disdain because of disloyal followers. Loyalty, however, is a two-way
street and should go from the leader to the follower as well as from the
follower to the leader. This chapter is being written at the time of the
Congressional hearings and the questioning of Colonel North, Admiral Poindexter,
Mr. McFarland and others. I will not attempt to go into the pros and cons
or to be provocative concerning these hearings, but concerning the matter
of loyalty, I have been very impressed with the loyalty to each other by
the men being questioned. Subordinates have appeared to be extremely loyal
to leaders, and superiors have been extremely loyal, in my opinion, to
subordinates. This is the way it should be.
2. Leaders should accept followers
as equals. A man is not necessarily a leader because he is superior
to someone else. A
man is not necessarily a follower because he
is inferior to another. The art of following is just as great as the art
of leading, and a leader who expects loyal followers should be a loyal
leader and should stand by his followers in the same manner that he expects
his followers to stand by him. The leader should certainly not look down
from a pedestal to the follower, and he should respect the art of following
as much as the follower respects the art of leading.
All of us are leaders and all of
us are followers. This is as it should be. To be a good leader, one must
be in some area of life a follower so he can know the heartbeat of the
follower. To be a good follower, one must be in some area of life a leader
so he can know the heartbeat of the leader. A man may be a leader at home,
as he heads his family, and then a follower at work; or a man may be a
leader at work and a follower at church, or a man may be a leader at work
and a follower at work. Perhaps he is a foreman who has a superintendent
for whom he works and laborers who work for him.
I have a wonderful man who works
with me named Randy Ericson. Randy is in charge of the maintenance of the
many buildings at First Baptist Church. He has several custodians who work
for him, and Randy in turn works for me. When we come to church, I am the
leader and Randy is the follower. When he takes me down to the boiler room
to look at a problem in the heating system, he is the leader and I am the
follower. There is no place in any organization for big shots and little
shots. Everybody is important. All of us should look at the rest of us
3. Each of us should purposely
be followers in some area. There is hardly a week that passes without
my receiving a call from some pastor concerning trouble in his church.
It is almost always the same trouble. Somebody in the church who is a leader
everywhere else he goes wants to run the church and take the pastor’s position.
Here is a man who owns a business, is president of a civic club, a leader
in politics, who comes to church. It is difficult for him to follow, but
it is good for him to do so, because obedience is a quality that gives
one the right to be a master. Luke 15:25-32, “Now his elder son was in
the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and
dancing. And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things
meant. And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed
the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound. And he was
angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and intreated
him. And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve
thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou
never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: but as
soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots,
thou hast killed for him the fatted calf. And he said unto him, Son, thou
art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should
make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again;
and was lost, and is found.” This is the story about the brother of the
prodigal son. This is the brother who stayed at home and worked for his
father. Notice the two things that the son said in verse 29. What a wonderful
pair of statements! Now notice later on in verse 31 the father says, “Son,
all that I have is thine.” Note that the father said to the son that everything
he had was his. How did the son get this mastery over his father? He got
it because he said, “Neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment.”
He said, “Dad, I never disobeyed you.” His dad said, “Then all that I have
is yours.” Obedience is the way to mastery. Obedience causes the one who
is the servant to be the master over the one who is the served and makes
the master a servant to the servant.
Obedience is the key that unlocks
the door to authority For example, I am now driving a car through the mountains
of northern California. I got in the car and the car said to me, “Obey
me. Put the key in the place prepared for it and turn the key to the right.
If you will obey me, I will let you master me.” Now I could have said to
the car, “Nobody is going to tell me what to do. I don’t believe in obedience.”
The car would have said to me, “Then you will never master me, for the
way to master me is to obey me. You put the key where I say to put it and
twist it like I say to twist it, and you may have me as your servant.”
I did this in obedience to the command of the car. Immediately I became
master of the car. I am driving it now. I am turning to the right a little
bit. I decide which way the car turns. I can play the radio if I want to.
I can turn it down; I can turn it up; I can turn it on; I can turn it off.
I can turn it to any station that I choose. I can turn on the air conditioning.
I can set it where I want to set it, or I can turn it off, or I can turn
on the heater if I choose. I can turn on the outside lights, the inside
lights, the parking lights, the flashing lights and do as I will. I can
make the car go faster or slower, or I can stop it. I can turn it to the
right or I can turn it to the left. How did I get this command over the
car? By obeying. Obedience is the way to mastery.
A wall socket in the house says
to me, “Obey me, and I will serve you.” I say to the wall socket, “Nobody
is going to tell me what to do.” The wall socket says, “‘Then I will not
give you my power.” I finally decide to yield and obey the wall socket.
When I do so, it will play a radio for me; it will operate an electric
shaver, waffle iron, television, iron, washing machine, dishwasher, or
whatever I decide. All I have to do is obey the wall socket, and then I
become its master. Obedience is not the bad word that our generation has
made it. It is the way to mastery, not the way to slavery.
Read. Psalm 1:1-3, “Blessed is the
man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the
way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight
is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth
forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever
he doeth shall prosper.”
God gives us five things here that
will make Him a servant to us. He says if we walk not in the counsel of
the ungodly and do not stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of
the scornful but delight in the law of the Lord and meditate therein day
and night, He will see to it that we prosper. He says, “You do these five
things in obedience to Me, and I will obey you.”
II Chronicles 7:14, “If My people,
which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek
My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven,
and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”
God says to us that if His people,
called by His name, will humble themselves, pray, seek His face, turn from
their wicked ways, that He will hear from Heaven, forgive their sins. He
says, “If you will obey Me, I’ll obey you. The way to mastery over Me is
to obey Me.”
John 15:7, “If ye abide in Me, and
My words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done
God says to us, “Abide in Me; let
My words abide in you. Then I will obey you. Ask what ye will.” God reminds
us, “Command ye Me.”
Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also
in the Lord; and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.”
God says, “Delight yourself in Me,
and I’ll give you the desires of your heart.” Ah, what a blessed, blessed
truth! Obedience is the way to mastery. Followship is the way to leadership,
and no one should lead who hasn’t followed; no one will lead successfully
who has not followed; and no one can be a master until he has obeyed.
Matthew 28:19, 20, “GO
therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father,
and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things
whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway even unto
the end of the world. Amen.” Notice the words in verse 18, “All power is
given unto Me in heaven and in earth.” This is followed by a command, “Go,
teach, baptize, and teach others.”‘ These commands are followed by a promise,
“Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”‘ What a blessed
truth! He goes back to that “all power” before the commands. He says, “All
power is given unto Me. I will give you that power and give you the right
to have that power if you will obey Me. In other words, you obey Me, and
you can be the master.” Obedience is the way to mastery.
The earth says to the tree, “Obey
me. Place in me your roots, and all of my wealth will come to your growth.”
The teacher says to the student, “Obey me, and all of my knowledge will
be at your disposal.” The parent says to the child, “Obey me, and all that
I have can be yours,” such as is seen in the story of the prodigal son’s
brother in Luke 15.
4. The leader should try to learn
the needs of each follower. Bear in mind that the leader has access
to powers not accessible to the follower. These powers should be used in
order to help the follower, so the leader should be very sensitive to the
5. The leader should try to meet
the needs of each follower. What a blessed truth! Since the leader
has the wherewithal that the follower often does not have, and since the
leader is supposed to have discernment concerning the needs of the follower,
he then should use that wherewithal to satisfy the needs that are known
by his discernment.
6. The leader should get ideas
from the follower. My definition of leadership perhaps is oversimplified,
but here it is: A leader is one who goes to all of his followers to learn
from them; he compiles a list of all he has learned and gives each follower
a copy As has been said, preaching is pouring back to the congregation
in a flood what the congregation sends to the preacher in a vapor. Leading
is collecting the knowledge of the followers and making each follower aware
of the knowledge of all the rest.
I travel every week. I go to every
part of the country. I learn everywhere I go, and then I take what I learn
from each part of the country and try to teach those who look to me in
some way as a leader.
7. The leader should give strength
to the follower. This is much the same as the preaching. Each
follower gives a little strength to the leader, making him stronger. The
leader then uses this strength received from the followers to give strength
and security to the followers who made him strong.
8. The leader should be a servant
of the follower. Did not the Master say that the servant is
greatest of all? The way that we become leaders and have the right to be
leaders is by serving. In so serving he convinces his followers of his
sincerity, concern, willingness and ability to lead. Coerced followship
is dictatorship. Earned followship is leadership.
Earlier in this chapter mention
was made about loyalty. Loyalty is one of the most misunderstood traits
and graces. In concluding this chapter, I would like for you to consider
the following about loyalty.
Loyalty is not the absence of disloyalty.
It is a positive trait, not the absence of a negative one. In other word,
a person is not necessarily loyal because he is not disloyal. There is
some ground between loyalty and disloyalty. Perhaps we could say there
is loyalty, aloyalty and disloyalty. Disloyalty criticizes, aloyalty is
silent, but loyalty defends! Both loyalty and disloyalty are vocal. Aloyalty
is silent. Loyalty never allows one word of criticism about the leader.
It is complete defense and support. It not only never says, “Did you hear
about . . . ?” but also it does not listen to, “Did you hear about ?” It
does not participate in criticism with the tongue or the ear. It does not
give itself the satisfaction of criticizing nor does it give a sympathetic
ear which gives others the satisfaction of criticizing.
Everyone cannot be talented; everyone
can be loyal. Loyalty is one trait that is attainable by all. Disloyalty
is the one trait that is not excusable! It is the unpardonable sin! It
is the most detestable and deplorable trait that a follower can have. It
has caused heartbreak to many leaders. It has caused heartbreak to more
followers. It has ruined the reputation of many leaders. It has ruined
the character of many followers. To those who possess disloyalty, it has
become a terminal cancer and professional suicide.
Loyalty is the complete support
and defense of a leader. There are several reasons why it should be given.
1. Respect for the work.A
few days ago I received a call from a pastor whose church operates a grade
school and a high school. This pastor told me a sad story about his principal
becoming disloyal. He had gone from class to class announcing his resignation
and giving the reasons why he was leaving.
Many years ago this pastor bought
some property and began a church. He cleared off the property with his
own hands and with blood, sweat and toil. Over many years he had seen the
church, under his leadership, grow to a membership of several thousand,
while the school had grown to an enrollment of several hundred. The pastor
then employed this principal. The pastor gave to the principal the buildings
which he had helped to build with his own hands, pupils whom he had won
to Christ, supplies and equipment purchased with money that he had raised
and much of which he had sacrificially given. Hence, the principal assumed
responsibility over children whom he had not won in buildings he had not
built using equipment he had not purchased. He had no moral right to damage
the work on the altar of his own hurt feelings. If and when he felt he
could no longer work happily in the situation, he should have courteously
resigned and never offered or listened to any criticism of the pastor.
2. Respect for success. When
one is a follower to a successful leader, the very success of that leader
should command loyalty. For example, I am on the board of the SWORD OF
THE LORD, a weekly publication edited by Dr. Curtis Hutson. I have been
on this board for many years. Now suppose that I disagree with Dr. Hutson
on some issue. I feel and have always felt that as a member of the board
I should prefer his feelings above my own. I have never edited a newspaper;
he has been an editor for many years. His success measured by the one third
of a million subscribers, or by almost any other criterion, should lead
the wise follower to have complete confidence in the wisdom of the leader.
It is amazing how that in this revolutionary
generation young people who have never built a chicken coop rebel against
master builders, who have never led a squad think they can lead an army,
who have never had a savings account think they can run a bank, and who
have never been a dog catcher think they can improve the presidency, have
absolutely no respect for success!
At this writing I know of a young
man who has just assumed the responsibility of becoming principal of a
school operated by a church and led by a pastor who founded the school,
was its first principal and has overseen the work for years. This young
man who is fresh out of college feels that the diploma he holds in his
hands has given him the right and equipment to know more about Christian
education than this pastor of many years’ experience. He is manifesting
a disloyalty which is disgraceful. Someone in school should have taught
him “Loyalty 13:1, “and if for no other reason, this loyalty should be
manifested because of respect for the success of the pastor. He should
be seeking the pastor’s counsel instead of shunning it. He should be asking
for the pastor’s counsel instead of abhorring it.
3. Respect for knowledge.There
are some things that the leader knows that no one else can know. This not
only pertains to facts, talent, etc., but it also pertains to knowledge
of people and circumstances which he, for obvious reasons, cannot divulge
to the followers. In other words, the follower does not always have all
of the facts. There are some things that only a leader can know. Hence,
it may appear to the follower that the leader is taking a wrong course
of action, causing the follower to oppose him vehemently However, if the
follower knew the facts that the leader cannot divulge to him, he would
no doubt arrive at the same conclusion to which the leader has arrived.
This means that the follower should trust the leader even if his judgment
seems unwise, realizing that the leader possesses many facts that only
he knows and that if he, the follower, were acquainted with the entire
case, he would probably arrive at the same conclusion.
If, for any reason, the follower
cannot give this trust and confidence to the leader, he should never under
any condition rebel or revolt. He should very quietly and ethically tiptoe
out. He has no right whatsoever to talk to anyone about his differences
with the leader, and he should leave without causing as much as a ripple
on the water.
4. Respect for the system.To
be sure, we are all human beings stranded on a planet whirling through
space. Since there is no one here but us, we have to govern ourselves.
This means we have to choose leaders who will govern us. This is why in
our system a country has a king or a president, a state has a governor,
a city has a mayor, a family has a father, a church has a pastor, and an
employee has a boss. Someone must be at the top. The system itself should
require loyalty from the follower to the leader. When this system breaks
down, anarchy follows the breakdown, and chaos follows the anarchy. This
is why we are reminded again and again in the Bible to respect our leaders,
obey those who are over us and follow those who lead us. Oftentimes the
leader is not of God, but the system is of God and the position is of God.
This is why God admonishes children to obey their parents, servants to
obey their masters, wives to obey their husbands, citizens to obey their
governments, etc. The system is God’s plan. We must not rebel against it.
5. Respect for your future.Disloyal
followers are seldom given loyal followers when they become leaders. Disloyal
followers make poor leaders.
I have known hundreds of assistant
pastors, music directors and education directors to be disloyal and to
cause trouble in the church by trying to unseat the pastor or spread rumors
about him. I have known very few who have won, and in practically every
case, the damage to the disloyal follower is far greater than the damage
to the criticized leader. Criticism always hurts the critic more than the
criticized. Hatred always hurts the hater more than the hated. Gossip always
hurts the gossiper more than the one about whom he gossips. The disloyal
follower always stands to lose more than he takes from, the accused leader.
There is also a law of sowing and
reaping. In the Bible we are reminded that everything is reproduced after
its own kind. Over and over again in the book of Genesis we find everything
has in itself its own seed to bring forth its own kind. Ibis is true not
only in the physical but also in the emotional, in the personality and
in the character. The pastor who criticizes other pastors will have people
who criticize him. The teacher who criticizes the principal will have pupils
who criticize him. God has a way of “letting our chickens come home to
Not only does the subordinate usually
lose, but he is also forming a habit of being disloyal that will hound
him the rest of his life. Look at Abraham and Lot. Lot and his herdsmen
became disloyal to Abraham. Lot chose for himself the best land, but look
at the life of heartache that followed. I have lived long enough to see
how battles turn out. I have watched young men become disloyal to leaders.
I have watched these young men become middle aged men. I have scrutinized
their careers carefully When as a follower one is disloyal, he is usually
as a leader suspicious of those who work under him, for he has developed
a life pattern which leads to failure and stifles success.
It has also been interesting through
the years to watch the development of the children of disloyal people.
It is interesting, tragic and almost unbelievable to see how disloyalty
in the life of a parent affects the children. Through the years I have
made surveys of the children of people who have become disloyal and have
left churches that I have pastored. In not one case has a single child
gone into full-time service for God, and in most cases, they have become
adults who do not even attend church. A part of this is because of their
secret and maybe even subconscious disgust for the disloyal parents. Part
of it is because the kind of churches chosen later by these people does
not turn out the best product. A part of it is God’s judgment and the law
of sowing and reaping doing its work.
6. Respect for the unsaved.When
Abraham and Lot and their herdsmen had trouble, there is a statement which
is brief but arresting which says simply, “And the Canaanite and the Perizzite
dwelled then in the land.” (Genesis 13:7b) In other words, others saw the
strife. They heard the bickering. They observed the disloyalty. One wonders
how many people will spend eternity in Hell because of disloyalty which
results in bickering, gossip, slander, criticism, vindication, retaliation
and other traits spawned in Hell by Lucifer and his angels.
Genesis 13:5-11, “And Lot also,
which went with Abram, had flocks, and herds, and tents. And the land was
not able to bear them, that they might dwell together: for their substance
was great, so that they could not dwell together. And there was strife
between the herdmen of Abram’s cattle and the herdmen of Lot’s cattle:
and the Canaanite and the Perizzite dwelled then in the land. And Abram
said unto Lot, Let there be no strife, I pray thee, between me and thee,
and between my herdmen and thy herdmen; for we be brethren. Is not the
whole land before thee? separate thyself, I pray thee, from me: if thou
wilt take the left hand, then I will go to the right; or if thou depart
to the right hand, then I will go to the left. And Lot lifted up his eyes,
and beheld all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered every where,
before the Lord destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, even as the garden of the
Lord, like the land of Egypt, as thou comest unto Zoar. Then Lot chose
him all the plain of Jordan; and Lot journeyed east: and they separated
themselves the one from the other.”
Romans 16:17, “Now I beseech you,
brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the
doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.”
As is often said on these pages,
faithful fundamentalist people are interwoven into a family like situation
for many hours a week. Now any two people who are closely associated will
have qualities that irritate each other. There are some people who leave
a ring around the bathtub. Others leave the pickle jar lid unscrewed. Still
others squeeze the toothpaste from the top of the tube. In our fundamental
churches we are going to find habits and qualities in other people that
are irritating to us. In our effort to keep peace, we must find ways to
prevent this irritation. Of necessity, this happens in homes, churches,
jobs, school and at play. In order for peace to prevail and unity to reign,
this problem must be solved, as follows:
1. Do not rely on doing better.
is this true in the case of adults. Fire and gasoline will always explode
when united. The gasoline can vow to do better, and the fire can promise
to improve, but it will not be done; explosion is inevitable. Oil and water
will never mix. Oil may promise to mix with water, and water may make a
resolution to mix with oil, but they will never mix. Because of this, it
is usually best for other measures to be taken.
2. Discover what it is about
you that irritates your friend and what it is about your friend that irritates
you. Face it with frank reality.
3. Stay away from circumstances
that cause this irritation. Abraham was Lot’s uncle. When Abraham
left the Ur of the Chaldees, he took his nephew with hi m and reared him
as if he were his own son. When a famine came in the land, Abraham took
his family to Egypt. There he and Lot both became wealthy, and as is often
the case, their wealth caused problems between them. Their employees began
to war with each other. Something had to be done! Abraham approached Lot
and suggested that Lot choose whatever land he wanted for himself Abraham
then agreed to take what was left. He was simply saying, “Lot, let’s not
allow strife between us. Let us alleviate that which causes the strife.
It is best that we not own the same land and share the same property. Let
us circumvent the circumstances that cause the friction and the things
that are irritants to each of us. In other words, let us stay away from
what irritates us and causes us trouble.”
There are some people that you can
work with, but you cannot play with them. In such cases, do work together,
but do not play together.
Then there are some people with
whom you can play but with whom you cannot work. In such cases, have social
life with them, but do not bear the yoke of work together.
There are some people that you can
be with for a short time but not for a long time. To be together for awhile
is pleasant and delightful, but after awhile irritation comes. In such
cases, discover how long you can be together before a problem arises, and
limit yourself to that amount of time.
There are some people with whom
certain subjects cause strife and stress. In such cases, avoid those subjects.
Recently I was fellowshipping with a young man. We probably agree on most
everything, but there is one subject about which we cannot agree. We were
having a wonderful time. Then he brought up the subject. I suggested that
since we were having such a good time together we not allow ourselves to
enter into an area where we disagree. He agreed that we should stay within
the boundaries of those things and not to enter into that subject which
would cause us irritation.
There are certain people who make
certain statements that irritate us. Discover those statements and avoid
them. Far too many of us want to irritate each other, and at certain times
in order to do so, we will use statements that we know will cause friction.
I know one man who, when he is angry
at his wife, inevitably uses the statement, “You are just like your mother!”
He knows that that statement will hurt his wife, and when he wants to hurt
her, he uses it. Why should any of us want to hurt any of the rest of us!
In order for churches to stay united, its members need to use extra care
not to say things that will cause another to hurt.
There are some people who work better
when communication is by memo, and there are others who work better when
communication is by conversation. The wise person will learn the preferences
of his friend and act wisely.
There are some things that two people
cannot share. The wise people will discover them and avoid them. Years
ago when our children were small, Mrs. Hyles and I took the children to
visit their maternal grandparents. At that time we lived only about 20
miles from them, and one night a week we went over to their house for a
meal. One evening while we were there, I became a little nauseated. I went
to Mrs. Hyles’ mother, whom we call MaMaw Slaughter, and said, “MaMaw,
I’m not feeling well. Do you have any Alka Seltzer?”
She said that she did not.
I said, “I always thought you kept
She said, “Well, I’m out now.” I
don’t know why, but I had some suspicion that she was not telling me the
truth. A while later I was in the kitchen and I saw a bottle of Alka Seltzer
on the windowsill. I went to the other room and told MaMaw. I reminded
her that I had asked her if she had any Alka Seltzer and that she had told
me that she had not. Then I told her that I had seen those in the kitchen.
She replied, “Oh, those are PaPaw’s
(her husband’s).” I then learned that they had had some disagreement about
how tight the lid should be placed on Alka Seltzer bottles, so in order
to prevent being irritated with each other, they had decided that each
would have his own bottle of Alka Seltzers.
At first thought, one may think
that this is being a little picky, but I like it! They did not want to
fuss or irritate each other. They had found one area that caused friction,
and they had circumvented that area. They detoured around the Alka Seltzers
in order to avoid tension between themselves.
When our children were small, Mrs.
Hyles and I had some difference of opinion in how we should discipline
them. (Of course, I was right!) This could have caused real friction, but
we detoured around the friction and agreed that when one of us was disciplining
the children, the other would leave the room. Many times one of us would
be disciplining the children and the other would take a walk around the
block or go out in the yard for a few minutes. This kept me from having
to witness her excessive leniency, and it kept her from having to witness
the execution when I was the disciplinarian.
There are some people who are strongly
opinionated. Occasionally two such people marry or two such people share
the same bus route or are on the same staff. When strongly opinionated
people share in the same work, it is usually best for the opinion not to
be expressed. Once again, we are circumventing areas of friction and tension.
It is usually best for people who
are together a lot not to speak often of ailments. To most people, constant
complaining about a headache, a toothache, weariness, etc. is irritating.
If such is the case, people would be wise to suffer alone rather than to
fight together. The wise people will find those conditions, circumstances
and habits that gender strife between them and avoid them.
The wise teacher will eliminate
the exposure of unnecessary things that are irritating to the students.
Likewise, the wise husband, wife, father, mother, son, daughter, coach,
athlete, pastor, staff members, employer, employee and friends in all areas
of life will be careful to avoid those events, times, subjects, activities
and words which can do nothing but harm.
Maybe the couple should have two
Alka Seltzer bottles or two ketchup bottles. Perhaps they should agree
not to watch the other discipline the children. Care should be taken to
find the things that are irritating. Ask each other. Be frank with each
other. Instead of scolding one another because of an idiosyncrasy and instead
of giving accusations of stubbornness, why not try to avoid the things
To be sure, there should be a constant
effort by both parties to correct the things that cause a problem, but
until that correction is complete, the irritants should be avoided. This
is what Abraham did.
Let it be established first, however,
that kindness should be exerted to everybody, but let it also be established
that though we are not to defend ourselves when attacked, we are, however,
to defend our friends when they are attacked. This is to be done only in
defense of our friends.
1. You will not criticize my
friend in my presence. In fact, I will ask you not to be critical
at all in my presence, but I definitely will not remain with you if you
are criticizing my friend. I will ask you to cease the criticism, or I
will remove myself from your presence.
Several years ago I was sharing
a taxicab with a well known preacher who began to criticize my friend,
John R. Rice. Immediately I asked the taxi driver to stop, and in plain
words I defended my friend and warned his attacker.
I was prevailed upon in a southern
city to eat out after a service one night. The pastor, the other guest
speaker, the guest soloist, two of my friends and I were sitting around
the table when suddenly the singer spoke an unkind word about one of my
friends who was not present. Immediately I said, “That isn’t so! You are
talking about my friend, and he isn’t that kind of a person, and I will
not sit here and listen to you attack him!” I will not retaliate if you
attack me, but I will not allow you in my presence to attack those whom
2. I will not socialize with
the enemies of my friends. I will not be unkind to them as long as
they sheathe their swords, but I will not socialize with them. I will feed
them if they are hungry; I will clothe them if they are cold; I will put
shoes on their bare feet, but I will not socialize with them. I do not
require my friends to follow the same policy, nor do I ask my friends to
assume my enemies, but my in-evocable policy is to love those who are enemies
to my friends, to help them if they need help, but not to enter into a
social time with them.
For many years Dr. John Rice and
I traveled often together. We shared pulpits across America at least once
a month, sometimes twice a month, and on rare occasions three or four times
a month. I was his friend.
For a number of years we had preached
together at the same church. Then the time came when the pastor made an
attack against Dr. Rice. The pastor was a good man and his attack was not
vicious, but nevertheless, it was an attack. Dr. Rice was no longer welcome
to preach in his pulpit. Because of this, I refused to return to that church
when I was invited the next time. The pastor asked for my reason. I explained
to him that John Rice is my friend, and that if he did not choose to have
John Rice, I would still come; but when he chooses to attack John Rice
and then decide not to have him again, I would not come. I explained to
him that this policy would be in effect until such time when he would have
Dr. Rice and me come back together for a meeting. To the credit of that
good man, not many months passed until he realized what he should do. He
wrote me and told me that he would have Dr. Rice to return. Dr. Rice and
I did return to his church and preach together again. From that day until
the day that John Rice went to Heaven, he and this pastor were dear friends.
Now I never chose to fight this beloved pastor, nor did I explain to anyone
anywhere the position that I was taking. I certainly did not become his
enemy; I just simply could not preach in his pulpit until his attack against
my friend was withdrawn and reconciliation was sought. If, during this
time, this dear pastor would have had a need of which I knew, I would have
been among the first to come to his side, but I would not have socialized
with him because I wanted my friendship to be obvious to my friend.
Maybe Peter was right when he rose
to the defense of Jesus at the time of betrayal, and certainly Jesus was
right when he replaced the ear of his enemy.
Several years ago one of our parking
lot attendants was helping park cars in the church parking lot. It was
the evening of the Hammond Baptist High School commencement exercises.
A guest got out of his car and, while walking past the attendant, cursed
me. My parking lot attendant instinctively “decked” the man. Now I told
my friend that he shouldn’t have done what he did, but under my breath
I couldn’t help but smile a bit not because I wanted someone hurt, but
because I appreciated the zeal of my friend in defending his pastor, even
though his zeal was perhaps somewhat misguided.
Maybe Abishai was right when he
drew his sword in defense of his friend King David, and certainly David
was right when he told Abishai to sheathe his sword.
3. When both the attacker and
the attacked are my friends and I am theirs, I defend the accused. Jonathan
was certainly a loyal son to his father, King Saul. He was likewise a loyal
friend to David. When King Saul attacked David, Jonathan was not defending
David against Saul; he was defending the attacked. I have no doubt in my
mind but that had David attacked Saul, Jonathan would have defended Saul
as quickly as he defended David when Saul had attacked him.
I have many wonderful staff members,
and have had many wonderful people work for me through these 40 years of
pastoring. Occasionally, however, one of my staff members will become critical
of another staff member. I always defend the one who is the accused. I
do not know if the accused has done what the accuser said he did, so I
do not know of the innocence or guilt of the accused. However, I DO know
of the guilt of the accuser, because it is wrong to accuse.
I was preaching on the subject of
false accusations. During the message I reminded my people that if they
falsely accuse someone, they are doing the work of the Devil, because he
is a false accuser, when suddenly a truth hit me of which I had never thought
before! The Devil is not a false accuser; he is a true accuser! He accuses
me to God and tells Him of my weaknesses, and what he says is true. So,
when I enter into true accusation, I am wrong and I am entering into the
work of the evil one.
I was in a hotel room with two of
my preacher friends, both are well known, famous preachers. They asked
me if I had heard rumors about a certain preacher who also was well known
and famous. I immediately answered that I had not heard such rumors and
that I would not listen to them, and I defended the absent brother vigorously
To the credit of the two men who were being critical, they both apologized
and admitted that their words were unwise, and they vowed not to speak
I was in a certain city preaching.
As soon as the pastor and I got in the car to leave the airport, he began
to tell me of a friend who had gone astray. Before he could tell me what
had happened, I requested that he refrain from doing so. He insisted on
telling me. I asked him then to stop the car and let me out. I told him
that I was going to take the next plane right back to Chicago, and that
I was not going to listen to criticism of my friend.
Quite often when I am preaching
somewhere, a layman in the church will approach me about his pastor. Not
only do I defend the pastor, but I will not listen to the criticism.
In summary, I am not to fight my
enemy; I am to love him, pray for him, bless him and do good to him. I
will assume my friends’ enemies, though I will not require them to do the
same to mine. If the accused is my friend and the accuser is my friend,
and I am the friend of both, I will defend the accused. I will not socialize
with enemies of my friends, though I will be unkind to no one.
Treatment of Enemies (1)
A Sermon Preached on a Sunday Evening
at the First
Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana
Mark 8:27-33, “And Jesus went out,
and His disciples, into the towns of Caesarea Philippi: and by the way
He asked His disciples, saying unto them, Whom do men say that I am? And
they answered, John the Baptist: but some say, Elias; and others, One of
the prophets. And He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Peter
answereth and saith unto Him, Thou art the Christ. And He charged them
that they should tell no man of Him. And He began to teach them, that the
Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and
of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days
rise again. And He spake that saying openly. And Peter took Him, and began
to rebuke Him. But when He had turned about and looked on His disciples,
He rebuked Peter, saying, Get thee behind me, Satan: for thou savourest
not the things that be of God, but the things that be of men.”
Matthew 26:47-50, “And while He
yet spake, lo, Judas, one of the twelve, came, and with him a great multitude
with swords and staves, from the chief priests and elders of the people.
Now he that betrayed Him gave them a sign, saying, Whomsoever I shall kiss,
that same is He: hold Him fast. And forthwith he came to Jesus, and saith,
Hail, master; and kissed Him. And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore
art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus, and took Him.”
To My Enemies of Forty Years
“And whosoever shall compel thee
to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from
him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it
hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But
I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to
them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute
you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for
He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain
on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what
reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your
brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans so?
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”
Tonight I want to speak on a very
unusual subject. I want to speak on the subject, “To My Enemies of Forty
Years.” I want you to think of your enemies as I think of those people
who for forty years have come and gone and been enemies of this preacher.
“Our Heavenly Father, I pray tonight
You would help us to enter into New Testament Christianity. Help us to
be Christians in the New Testament sense. Give us, I pray, the attention
of all the people tonight. Amen.”
Tonight I would like to address
a group of people that are scattered across many miles, people I’m sure
some of whom live in every state of the union. Tonight I would like to
address a group of people who are not only scattered across many miles
but across many years. Forty years as a preacher of the Gospel I have lived
with the awareness that some people hate me. I have lived with the awareness
that this hatred is nationwide and almost in every state of the union.
Tonight I would like to address those who are my enemies, not those who
are in this room. No preacher has more people who are kind and gracious
to him than I do! I do not feel at all that the people in this room need
what I am going to say, but I was in east Texas recently, and I got to
thinking while I was there for a couple of days about my young ministry
and I got to thinking about some of the people in east Texas who are my
enemies. As I flew into the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, I got to looking
down and thinking of people in the great Dallas-Fort Worth area who were
my enemies. Tonight I would like to address all of those people who for
forty years have been my enemies. Some will hear me from Heaven. Others
will hear me on tape as they hear this sermon played. Still others will
hear by word of mouth, and maybe perchance, there are some in this room
What I will say tonight can be summarized
by these words: I thank God for my enemies! I thank God for those who for
all these years have been my enemies. No, I do not say that I enjoy having
enemies, and I think it is easier thanking God for my friends, and I do
thank God for my friends. No one has been blessed with as many close, dear
precious friends as this preacher. Nobody has ever pastored a church of
people who are more thoughtful than are the people of this church, and
no preacher ever hears the words, “I love you,” or reads the words, “I
love you,” more than I do. No preacher has a finer group of people.
Not only do I have many wonderful
friends in this church, but all over America and all over the world God
has given me a group of people who love me and who are my friends. Almost
everywhere I go people say, “Look at all that hair!” and words of affection
and “hurt.” Almost everywhere I go, people walk up and say, “Show us your
muscle,” and some even say, “Reverend Boopsie-Woopsie!” It is almost cultish.
I mean by that, there is almost a loyalty around the nation of literally
hundreds of thousands of people to this church. This church is the headquarters
of fundamentalism in America. I mean old-fashioned, Hell-fire and brimstone,
rock-rib, black-is-black, white-is-white, the Bible is the Word of God,
“Ye must be born again,” separated- from-the-world fundamentalism! This
church is the headquarters of it in this nation. No doubt about it! People
look to us. I thank God tonight, not only for the dear friends that I have
here for whom and with whom I have labored these many years, but I thank
God tonight for that great legion of friends all over the nation and around
Tonight, however, I want to turn
from that crowd of loyal people who love me. I want to thank God tonight
for another group of people. I want to thank God for my enemies for these
forty years. I speak to you as a group, you in Heaven, and I think there
are a few of you who didn’t quite make it! I thank God tonight for my enemies.
Now I speak to all of you, both to you who hear me from Heaven, to you
who hear me on tape and perchance to you who hear me in this room tonight,
though I do not know who you are.
At first you surprised me. I did
not know in those early days that you existed. I wasn’t expecting you.
I’ll be quite frank with you, when I entered the ministry I did not know
that preachers had enemies. I was a young man. I was naive. I remember
when the first of you came to me in east Texas, I did not know how to react.
I did not know the Scriptures, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse
you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully
use you.” “Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the
other also.” “If any man take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.”
I did not know these Scriptures. I’ll be quite frank with you. In those
early days I did not know the Scriptural way to react to you, my enemies.
I’m afraid in those early days I often fought you back, and I’m sorry.
I’m afraid in those early days I even preached against you from the pulpit,
and I’m sorry. I’m afraid in those early days I did not turn the other
cheek, and I’m sorry. I’m afraid in those early days I did not bless you
when you cursed me, and I’m sorry. I’m afraid in those early days I did
not love you when you hated me, and I’m sorry. I’m afraid in those early
days I did not pray for you when you despitefully used me, and I’m sorry.
The other day I was asked at a question
answer session, “Dr. Hyles, if you had your life to live over again, can
you think of any changes you’d make?”
I said quickly, “Yes, I can think
of one. If I had my life to live over again I’d like to take back some
of the things I said to my enemies many years ago. I would like to take
back some of the things I did to my enemies many years ago. If I had my
life to live over, I would like to live over some of those days when I
did not know that the Bible teaches me to love those that hate me, to do
good to those that do evil to me, to bless those that curse me, and to
pray for those that despitefully use me. If I had my life to live over,
I’d like to live over the early days of my ministry when I retaliated,
when I sought revenge. I was sincere; God knows that I was, but I did not
understand it, and so I’d like to say this tonight to my enemies of over
40 years of my ministry: I have not always enjoyed you, but tonight I thank
God for you.
Thank you for hating me, for had
you not hated me I could never have obeyed God’s command to love those
that hate me. Thank you for cursing me, for had you not cursed me I could
not have obeyed the command of God to bless those that curse me. Thank
you for despitefully using me, for had you not despitefully used me, I
could not have prayed for those who despitefully use me. Thank you for
smiting me, my enemies, for had you not smitten me, I could not have turned
the other cheek. Thank you for taking my coat, for had you not taken my
coat I could not have heeded the admonition of the Scripture, “If any man
take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also.” Thank you for making
me go a mile, for had you not forced me to go a mile, I could not have
gone two miles with you. May I say this. That is what I’ve done for 24
years. I have not always turned the other cheek, but I have for 24 years.
I have not always blessed those that curse me, but I have for 24 years.
I have not always loved those that hated me, but I have for 24 years. I
am not lying to you. I’d rather die now than lie behind the sacred desk.
I may sometimes tell you something that’s not true, but not to my knowledge.
I would rather die tonight than to stand behind this pulpit and tell you
something that isn’t true. I say this tonight with one hand on this Book
and my heart laid bare, for 24 years I have not had bitterness in my heart
toward anybody. For 24 years I have not hated anybody. For 24 years I have
tried to love those that hate me, I have prayed for those that despitefully
use me, and I have blessed those that curse me. I do not claim to have
apprehended. I do not claim even to be a good Christian, but I do say this:
On my face in a little hospital room in Dyer, Indiana, when our little
Linda was at the brink of death,
I got on my knees and I promised God that I would love my enemies from
that day until this.
Tonight I want to thank my enemies.
I want to thank God for you because you have caused me to have the opportunity
to obey the command of my Lord in my relationship with you. I’m sorry that
before 24 years ago I often smote you back. I’m sorry that before 24 years
ago I maybe wanted to smite you back. I’m sorry for the six months of bitterness
I had toward you when I was about 30 years of age. In one of the darkest
hours of my life when I thought my ministry was gone, I became bitter,
and for six months of my life bitterness filled my soul when I was about
30 years of age. I apologize tonight to my enemies for allowing bitterness
to come into my heart, because if I’m bitter toward you, it is not you
who loses; it is I who lose! If I shoot you, the bullet boomerangs and
hits me also. I am sorry that on occasion when you hated me, I hated you.
I am sorry that on occasion when you wronged me, I wronged you. I am sorry
that on occasion when you did me evil, I did you evil back.
From the moment 24 years ago I knelt
in Dyer Mercy Hospital on the third floor of a little dark hospital room
and said, “Dear God, take this bitterness out of my heart,” until this
moment, I have never harbored bitterness in my heart toward anybody, and
there is not a human who lives tonight, not a one, but if he stabs me in
the breast I’ll take the knife and give it back to him and buy him a new
knife if he needs it. There is not a man in this world whom I wouldn’t
feed tonight if he were hungry. There is not a person living tonight whom
I would not clothe if he were naked. There is not a person living tonight
whom I would not help if he needed help.
I’m simply saying tonight, thank
God for my enemies, for I would not have known to love you if I had not
had you. I could not have turned the other cheek had you not smitten one.
I could not have blessed you had you not cursed me. There is no preacher
alive who is criticized more than I am. I do not know why Maybe it’s because
of the size of the church; I do not know why. I refuse tonight to live
with revenge in my heart. I refuse tonight to live with vengeance in my
soul. I refuse tonight to curse those that curse me and hate those that
hate me. I refuse! I cannot make you love me, but you cannot keep me from
loving you. I wish I could show you my heart. I often feel when I am preaching
around the country that I would like to take this little pocket knife which
I always carry (I’m a Switchblader from Hammond City Baptist High School)
and cut my heart open and let you see it. You would find a heart of love.
That’s the truth. My sword is sheathed. My tongue is bridled. My guns are
stacked. My arsenal is empty. My quiver is bare.
I speak to my enemies all over the
world tonight. I cannot criticize you, and I will not knowingly hurt you.
If I had David’s sword at the cave where thou art sleeping, I would not
smite thee. In these 24 years I have not allowed others to speak ill of
thee in my presence. I have not asked my friends to shun thee. I desire
my friends to be your friends, even though you are my enemy I do not say
that you are all bad because you are my enemies. No doubt I have on occasion
deserved you. Perhaps I have left the wrong impression at times, or perhaps
you did not totally understand. And though I have never wanted you to be
my enemy, I have always needed you. Without thee, I would not have known
God as well. You have allowed me to spend more time with Him and for us
to get to know each other better. You have taught me to love those that
hate me. Thank you for teaching me. You have taught me to pray for those
that despitefully use me. You have taught me to bless those that curse
me. Thank you for making it possible. I am grateful. Though I have not
totally been able to rejoice and be exceeding glad as I am commanded to
in the Scriptures, I am grateful, and I love you.
If you desire an enemy, you must
look elsewhere. If you desire a fight, I will not oblige you. If you hate
me, I will love you back, and you can’t keep me from it! You curse me,
and I will bless you back, and you can’t keep me from it. You take my coat,
and I’ll give you my cloke, and you can’t keep me from it. You smite me,
and I’ll turn the other cheek, and you can’t keep me from it.
You say, Preacher, how is this possible?
How is it possible for you to speak to hordes of enemies over 40 years
around the world and say to people that hate you, “I love you”? How could
you say to people that curse you, “I’ll bless you”? How could you say to
people who despitefully use you, “I’ll pray for you”? How could you say
to people who have smitten your cheek, “I’ll turn the other cheek”? How
could you sheathe your sword and stack your arms and bridle your tongue
and empty your arsenal and bare your quiver? How could you do it?
This is how. You see, I once did
evil to a Man myself. I once took a hammer and drove nails into a Man’s
hands. You have not done to me what I’ve done to a Man. I once said, “Crucify
Him! Crucify Him!” I once delivered Him to the hands of an angry mob. I
once placed the kiss of betrayal on His brow. I once stood and warmed my
feet by the fire and followed from afar as they took the lovely Lord away
to Calvary. I took the cat-o’-nine tails in my hand and beat His back beyond
recognition. I joined the crowd that said, “Release Barabbas! Release Barabbas!
Crucify Jesus! Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” My voice joined that crowd, and
my sin put Him naked at the mercy of the scourges. I held the coats of
those who nailed His hands and feet to the cross. I put nails in His hands.
I put nails in His feet. I put a crown of thorns on His brow. I put a spear
in His side. I mocked Him, treated Him as a mock king and put a sign over
Him that said, “THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS!” I did it, and while I did
it, He opened His mouth and said, “Father, forgive them; for they know
not what they do.”
If He Who knew no sin could forgive
me who is sin, I can forgive you, my brother sinner. If He Whose feet never
walked a crooked path, Whose mind never had an evil thought, Whose hands
never did an evil deed, Whose heart never had an evil motive, Whose lips
never spoke an evil word, if He after I have crucified Him could say, “Father
forgive him, he knows not what he does,” I do not understand to save my
life why those of us sinners saved by His grace have to harbor ill will
toward each other.
But He did more than that! He forgave
me, and He justified me! He pronounced me as if I had never sinned, and
though I was a part and parcel in crucifying Him, and though these hands
drove nails in His and though this tongue and this sin from body, life,
heart and mind put Him on the cross, not only did He forgive me, but when
I trusted Him, He erased from His judicial record in glory every sin I
“I’m justified! I’m happy in Jesus
The sins I’ve committed, they’re
all in the past;
They’ve all been forgiven, and He
holds me fast!
I’m justified! I’m justified!
I’m happy in Jesus today.”
That isn’t all He did! Not only
did He forgive me, and not only did He justify me, but He saved me! He
wrote my name in the Book of Life! He delivered me from the fires of Hell!
Tonight He is preparing a home in the Gloryland, where I can live forever,
not because I am righteous, for I am not! I am unrighteous! I’m a sinner
saved by His grace, forgiven by His love, justified by His justice, saved
by His mercy, redeemed by His blood, indwelt by His Spirit, led by His
Word, saved by His Son and headed for Heaven by His amazing grace! I didn’t
deserve a bit of it! You are looking tonight at a man who deserves to go
to Hell. I am looking at thousands of folks tonight who deserve to bum
in Hell. I don’t understand it. If He could forgive us after all we’ve
done to Him, then we ought to forgive each other for what mistakes others
have made toward us.
I always wanted to go to the Holy
Land. (Not many folks want to go now they’re chicken!) I always wanted
to go to the place where they took His little body and wrapped it in swaddling
clothes and laid Him in a manger. I always wanted to go to the place where
He knelt and prayed on the mountain. I always wanted to go to the place
where He was baptized in Jordan. I always wanted to go to the place where
He turned the water into wine. I always wanted to go to the place where
He fed the 5,000. I always wanted to go to the place where He was tried
wrongly in Pilate’s Hall. I always wanted to go to the place where He was
crucified–Calvary! I always wanted to see the empty tomb! (I did see,
and the tomb is empty!) I always wanted to go. I dreamed of going. Finally
one year we got to go. We went the first time with a Bob Jones tour. There
were about 23 of us, I think, on the tour. We stopped in Paris, but I wanted
to see Calvary. We stopped in Rome, but I wanted to see Calvary. We stopped
in Greece, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw the Parthenon, but I wanted
to see Calvary. We saw Corinth, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw the
Colosseum, but I wanted to see Calvary. We saw the catacombs, but I wanted
to see Calvary. We went to Egypt and saw the pyramids, but I wanted to
see Calvary. We saw the tombs of the kings, but I wanted to see Calvary.
We saw the museum of Egypt with King Tut’s possessions displayed, but I
wanted to see Calvary. We saw the sphinx, but I wanted to see Calvary.
We went to the Promised Land. I walked one day where Jesus walked. We saw
the place where He was baptized, and I baptized several people in the Jordan
River while a crowd on the bank sang, “On Jordan’s stormy banks I stand
and cast a wishful eye, to Canaan’s fair and happy land where my possessions
lie.” We went to the Sea of Galilee. We saw that hill where He preached
His sermon to the 5,000 and multiplied the loaves and fishes and fed them
miraculously. We saw the synagogue in Capernaum, where Peter attended when
he was growing up. We went to Bethlehem and sang, “0 little town of Bethlehem,
how still we see thee lie!”
Then one day we went to Calvary!
It is a little place. There is a bus station now at the bottom of that
little hill, but there was none there then. It is a hill that looks just
like a face. It is sort of an embankment. It is not very high. I do not
think it is as high as this auditorium. On top there is a cemetery. There
are layers of stone, and you can see two places that probably represent
sunken eyes and a place that looks like a mouth and the place above the
eyes that looks like the place of a skull. We knelt. I had always dreamed
of kneeling there.
I had sung as a child, “Years I
spent in vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified, knowing not
it was for me He died on Calvary.” I had sung, “On a hill far away, stood
an old rugged cross, the emblem of suffering and shame.” I had sung, “At
the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burden of
my heart rolled away,” and finally I was there! I looked at Calvary, weeping
uncontrollably! People left, but I couldn’t leave! I was there alone! All
of our crowd had gone back and gotten on the bus, but I couldn’t go! That
is where it happened! That is where my sin debt was paid! That is where
my Saviour died! That’s it! I began to sing and cry and cry and sing!
I can still see Dr. Bob Jones, Jr.,
coming back a little upset with me. He said, “Dr. Hyles, we’ve got to go!
Everyone is waiting on you!”
I said, “I can’t go yet! I can’t
I told that story once, and someone
asked me what I was thinking about as I looked at Calvary. This is what
I said: “I thought, ‘If He could do that for me, I don’t ever want to hate
anybody again as long as I live! I don’t ever want to speak unkindly about
anybody as long as I live!’ “
Ladies and gentlemen, you have enemies
like I have. There are those who would do you ill, and those who have and
will try to do you ill, but my Bible tells me to love them, and your Bible
tells you to love them. My Bible tells me to bless them, and your Bible
tells you to bless them. My Bible tells me to pray for them, and your Bible
tells you to pray for them.
I wish tonight every person in this
room could lie down to rest and sing, “Nothing between my soul and the
Saviour, naught of this world’s delusive dream.”
In an institution as complex in
its program as the fundamental New Testament church (which is composed
of frail humanity) it is almost impossible for one to escape the distasteful
position of having enemies. As we mingle within this little society within
a society called the New Testament church, most if not all of us will accrue
people who are our enemies. Though the sermon that you have just read covers
much of the information and method of dealing with such people, it is perhaps
wise that we enlarge at least somewhat upon it.
Romans 12:14, “Bless them which
persecute you: bless, and curse not.”
Romans 12:17-21, “Recompense to
no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. If
it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. Dearly
beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it
is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. Therefore
if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so
doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil,
but overcome evil with good.”
Matthew 5:4347, “Ye have heard that
it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good
to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and
persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:
for He maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth
rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you,
what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute
your brethren only, what do ye more than others? do not even the publicans
I Corinthians 6:7, “Now therefore
there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another.
Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves
to be defrauded?”
From these and other passages we
arrive at the following conclusions:
1. We are to love those that
hate us. What a perfect example of this our Saviour left for
us! He has been scourged by the cat-o’nine-tails. His body has been beaten
beyond recognition. He has been wrongly tried. He has been nailed to a
cross. He has been the object of jeers, profanity, hatred, malice and unbelievable
persecution and suffering. He opens His mouth from the cross and what are
His first words? “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”
What a tremendous example of loving those who hated Him! The Scriptures
plainly teach us that we are to be like Him.
I John 4:17, “Herein is our love
made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because
as He is, so are we in this world.”
John 14:12, “Verily, verily, I say
unto you, He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do also;
and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My Father.”
Philippians 2:5, “Let this mind
be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.”
John 20:21, “Then said Jesus to
them again, Peace be unto you: as My Father hath sent Me, even so send
In order to be like Him, we must
grow to the place in our Christian lives where we love those that hate
us. In other words, though we cannot avoid having enemies, we are to be
no man’s enemy In other words, though people are offended toward us, we
are to be offended toward no one. The Psalmist tells us, “Great peace have
they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.” (Psalm 119:165)
2. We are not to retaliate. Romans
12:14, 17-21. Vengeance is the Lord’s. He will care for that which is necessary.
However, the spiritual Christian will not want vengeance to be given to
his enemy unless the vengeance that God executes is for the enemy’s good.
In other words, we should not want the enemy to suffer because he has made
us to suffer, unless that suffering can help him. At any rate, we are to
leave that vengeance in the hands of God.
3. We are to bless those that
curse us and do good to those who do evil to us. This admonishes us
to actively do good to those who are our enemies. In other words, deeds
and acts of kindness should be showered upon those who hate us. It may
be that such deeds and acts must be done anonymously, but nevertheless,
they should be done. We should never fight malice with malice. We should
not use the methods of the demons to fight the demons. Our weapons are
spiritual ones. We are to fight hatred with love, selfishness with unselfishness,
cursing with blessing, greed with generosity, unkindness with kindness,
criticism with prayer, and bad with good.
This author is far from perfect,
neither has he yet apprehended, but I can honestly say that for 24 years
I have not had bitterness in my heart toward any human being, and for those
24 years I have loved my enemies. The lesson I learned was a hard one and
a costly one. When I was pastoring in Garland, Texas, I was a young man,
and the growth of the church had perhaps exceeded my ability to handle
the situation properly.
There was a man in the church with
whom I shared some unkind words. Some were spoken from me to him and some
from him to me. I allowed a bad spirit toward him to enter into my heart
and mind. He left the church and, to be quite frank, we would not speak
to each other. Not long after that, I was called to pastor the First Baptist
Church of Hammond. For about three years it seemed that the church could
not get moving. Of course, I was not willing to admit the fact that at
least pail of the cause and blame should be laid at my feet because of
my feelings toward the aforementioned man. One morning we took our little
girl, Linda, who at the time was four years old, to the Mercy Hospital
in Dyer, Indiana, for what we thought would be a routine tonsillectomy
The tonsillectomy was performed, and I was sitting beside Linda in a hospital
room. The nurse assured me everything was all right. I was reading the
newspaper and suddenly I looked at Linda and saw her little head was in
a pool of blood. We did not know that she was a free bleeder, but obviously
she was. I rushed out of the room into the corridor of the hospital calling
for the nurse and the doctor. The nurse came quickly, saw her condition,
picked her little body up and ran down the hospital corridor, carrying
Linda to emergency surgery. As the nurse disappeared through the double
doors on which a sign had been placed which said, “No Admittance,” I retreated
down the hallway of the hospital to find an empty room where I could pray.
I finally saw a room that was dark in which there were no patients. I went
to a bedside and knelt and began to pray for God to spare the life of our
little girl. The last words I heard the nurse say as she carried Linda
down the hallway were, “Call the doctor! She is dying! She is bleeding
to death! Call the doctor! Call Dr. Friedman!” With these words ringing
in my mind, I knelt to pray for Linda. Then I said to God, “Before I pray,
I want to be sure that You hear me and that You answer me, and I want you
to let me know if there is anything between You and me that would hinder
my prayers being answered.” Suddenly I saw the face of that man in Texas
against whom I had ill will. I realized that there was something in my
heart that must be removed before Linda could be spared. I rushed out in
the hallway, grabbed a telephone to call the man. The operator told me
that he had moved. I called a friend of his to find his address and phone
number. For a long time in that hallway I frantically tried to find the
man so I could apologize, but my efforts failed. I returned to the room
to pray. Though I had not accomplished my mission of apologizing, the Lord
had removed bitterness from my heart, and I was sure that He would hear
me and answer me. Praise His name, Linda did live, and she is now a wife
and mother of two children.
I continued my search for the man.
I could not find him. Months later I was preaching in a small church in
east Texas. As I walked onto the platform, I looked and to my delight and
surprise, that man and his wife were sitting a few seats from me in front
of the pulpit. My heart began to beat faster, and I said to God, “If You
will let me live through this sermon, I promise You I’ll go back and apologize
to that man and tell him I love him as soon as the sermon is over.” I finished
the sermon and during the closing prayer I started back to the man’s seat,
when suddenly I bumped into somebody I looked up and it was this deacon.
We met in the aisle, and while the closing prayer was still being prayed
I looked up and said two words. Now these are the hardest words I say.
For many years I have been preaching; in fact, I have preached over 45,000
sermons, and yet there is one little sermon of two words that is the hardest
for me to preach. Those two words are the words I knew I had to say to
this man, and so with the same awkwardness of a little child making his
first speech in school, I looked up through tears and said, “I’m sorry!”
He looked at me and said, “Pastor,
I’m sorry! It was my fault that we had the trouble!”
I said, “No, it was my fault.”
He said, “No, Pastor, you were tired
and weary and I shouldn’t have provoked you to say what you said.”
“But,” I said, “sir, I should not
have said what I said and I am sorry!”
He said, “Well, it was my fault,”
and I said, “No, it was my fault.” He said, “It was my fault,” and I said,
“No, it was my fault.” And so we argued for awhile over whose fault it
was, as the Lord in Heaven smiled and saw two of His children making it
right with each other. That night I went back to my hotel room, took off
my shoes and got up on the bed and made a trampoline out of the bed and
jumped up and down most of the night and sang, “Nothing between my soul
and the Saviour, naught of this world’s delusive dreams; I have renounced
all sinful pleasure, Jesus is mine, there’s nothing between!”
From that moment until this moment
I have had many enemies, but I have never been an enemy I am commanded
by God to bless those that curse me, to pray for those that despitefully
use me, to do good to those who do evil to me, to love those who hate me.
4. I am not to attack, nor am
I to defend. A good motto for any Christian would be, “No attack;
no defense.” By that I mean, I am not to attack my enemies. I am not to
return evil for evil. Then, when attacked by my enemies, I make no defense.
Now I will defend my Saviour, and I will defend others, but I will not
defend myself. I fight His battles; He fights my battles.
5. I am not to go to court with
a Christian brother or sister.I Corinthians 6:7, “Now therefore there
is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another. Why
do ye not rather take wrong? why do ye not rather suffer yourselves to
Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have
they which love Thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”
Our churches and schools are plagued
by people who are easily offended. Each of us should constantly be on guard
against this deadly enemy of the church, the school, the Christian and
6. Stay in the Word of God.
119:165 teaches us that there is a way that we can rise above being offended.
Notice the words, “Nothing shall offend them.” Read the Word, memorize
the Word, love the Word, meditate upon the Word, live in the Word, and
victory can be had over this adversary.
7. Do not look at criticism as
being personal. Years ago I learned a little exercise that has
helped me tremendously I decided to look upon my critics as broken rather
than as bad. When my watch breaks, I do not fight back and throw it against
the wall. When my radio breaks, I do not become angry at it. I decided
that when people criticize me, it is not because they are bad; it is because
there is a broken part. This does not mean that they should be discarded
any more than the radio should be discarded. They need to be fixed. Then
I also realize that I too sometimes am broken.
8. Do not love because of the
object. Love should be caused by the condition of the heart
of the lover, not the attributes of the loved. God does not love us because
of what we are; He loves us because of what He is. May He help us to be
like Him in this respect.
Being human, it may be somewhat
difficult for us to love the unlovely as much as we love the lovely, and
the degree of our love may be determined by the degree of loveliness; however,
the presence of our love should not be so determined.
9. Do not want things or position.
of our hurt feelings are caused by disappointments in not receiving things,
acclaim or position that we want or crave. The less one wants the less
he will be offended. The more one wants for others, the less he will be
offended. The only real want or craving a Christian should have toward
others is an intense desire to help others. Remember, Christ has no alternative
but to love the unlovely, the unloving and often the unloved.
10. If your critic is your inferior,
allow that he has not been privileged to know what you know. Give him
I am a very criticized man, probably
one of the most criticized preachers of this generation. I try to allow
that a person can dislike me and still not be bad. We are so constructed
that a person can be mean to the rest of the world and good to us and we
think he is good, or he can be good to the rest of the world and mean to
us and we think he is bad. There are many people who have not had the teachings
that you and I have had. They do not even know the truths that we are now
sharing. No one criticizes a baby because he cannot ride a bicycle or a
child because he doesn’t know trigonometry Why should we have our feelings
hurt by those who have not been privileged to learn not to be critical?
11. Do not have a lot of unplanned
fellowship. Do not just sit around and talk. Soon it will lead
to talking about people. Someone has said that great minds talk about ideas,
good minds talk about things, and weak minds talk about people. When planning
to get together with other Christians, plan the activities. Do not sit
idly and talk idly. There is a grave temptation to talk too much about
people. Maybe this talk is not bad, but once we idly talk, we are tempted
to talk about people, and once we start talking about people, we are tempted
to say bad things about them.
12. Do not retaliate to those
who try to offend you, who are unkind to you or who criticize you.
Memorize Psalm 119:165. Believe
it. Practice it and let nothing offend you.
Would you rather for two people
to hurt or one? Of course, the answer is that all of us would rather one
person hurt than two.
Would it matter who these two people
were? Why initially we would answer the question, “No, it doesn’t matter
who they are. I would rather for only one person to hurt than two.”
The next question comes, what if
one of those two people is you? Then, will it matter? In other words, would
you rather only one to hurt or two to hurt if you are the one that is hurt,
or would you rather someone else hurt because you hurt?
Now ask yourself this next question,
would it matter how the other person felt about you? In other words, if
you are hurting because another person has hurt you and that other person
hates you, would you still rather one person to hurt than two? When our
answer to this question can become “Yes,” then we are approaching what
Christianity is all about and the type of life that God’s people are supposed
to live. Probably the Ph.D. of Christianity is earned when a person can
treat his enemies as Jesus treated His. Perhaps the most difficult and
last step of Christian maturity is when the Christian learns to love those
who hate him, pray for those who despitefully use him, bless those who
curse him and do good to those who do evil to him.
Someone very dear to me who had
been my friend for years launched a brief but fierce attack my way. I could
not believe he did it. When I realized he did, I could not believe he meant
to do me harm. Through tears I wrote these words:
Let’s Both Forgive!
You did not mean to loose the bow
That launched the arrow toward
Nor did you plan to shake the limb
That so disturbed my downy nest.
‘Twas not your will to hurl the
That hailed upon me like a storm;
‘Twas not your quill that penned
That railed upon my inner form.
You did not make the venom that
Your tongue so quickly shot my
Nor did you mean to loosen all
The fiery snakes I fled today.
You did not weigh the giant stone
Hewn by the words you spoke to
‘Twould not be there had you but
The load with which I came to thee.
I know, for I have hurled some stones,
I vainly tried to have returned.
My quiver’s empty far too oft;
My fiery darts too much have burned.
I own some venom and a bow
Which oft unite in deadly flight
To far exceed in damage done
The arrow’s wound and serpent’s
I know the empty victor’s guilt
When kneeling o’er my fallen prey.
I’ve held the sword when blood
While joys of winning fled away.
So may I love you when you hate,
And may I bless you when you curse.
I cannot now retaliate,
For yesterday ’twas in reverse.
May I return an answer soft
To turn away thy hasty wrath;
For I have tasted far too oft
The bitter herb my friend now hath.
Six critical letters came in one
day’s mail, five of the letters criticizing someone else! I find myself
having a difficult time believing that God’s people can be so critical
of each other. Spontaneously I shouted while alone in my study, “Could
we not love each other?” I then used the following words to plead with
fellow Christians to love our brothers and sisters in Christ:
Could We Not Love Each Other?
Could we not love each other?
The place prepared for me
Is near the one for thee.
Hence, neighbors we will be.
Come! Be my brother.
Could we not love each other?
The Hand that gives thee bread
Is the One that keeps me fed.
Let harsh words be unsaid.
You are my brother.
Could we not love each other?
The load your heart doth bear
Is one that we could share.
We both dwell ‘neath His care,
Could we not love each other?
I have stood in your place,
And you my path oft traced,
So let us offer grace
Could we not love each other?
The One Who died for you
Is my dear Saviour too.
Is it too much to do
To love our brother?
Could we not love each other?
That selfsame throne of grace
Where thou dost seek His face
Is my abiding place
Beside you, brother.
Could we not love each other?
The letter was filled with hatred,
insults and satire. It was from one who admitted hatred for me. I called
him on the telephone to seek conciliation. This attempt simply turned written
words to spoken ones. All efforts for a Christian understanding failed
and he hung up the phone. I wrote the following words and mailed them to
You Are My Enemy
You are my enemy
So I must love you more
Than those who love me most,
And, who, upon me pour
The best of friendship’s wine.
I must not taste the sour grape
From vindication’s vine.
You are my enemy
‘Twill not be always so;
For I will drown thy hate
Within the loving flow
Of calm, forgiving seas;
And use thy saber’s sharpest blows
To knock me to my knees.
You are my enemy
I must take care to bless
Thee through thy cursings oft!
And hold within my breast
That restless, unkind word;
For I must keep in hidden sheath
You are my enemy
I cannot quench the scorn
That you have rushed my way;
Yet something hath been born,
Begotten from above;
No shield you hold can deftly block
The arrows of my love.
You are my enemy
And so I more must pray
For God to do thee good,
And take my spite away;
And warm the biting chill
That cometh to the both of us
Should I but do thee ill.
One day, upon hearing of an attack
on me and my ministry, I was tempted to retaliate and to steal from the
Lord His work of vengeance. I began to think, however, of the times when
I had been critical and unkind. Hence, I could not retaliate. Rather than
give vengeance, I must offer compassion, love, and understanding. The following
stanzas came to my mind:
A Familiar Stone
I once retrieved an angry stone,
Still warm from resting in thine
To boomerang it back to thee,
As vengeful reprimand.
I took retaliatory aim
To even up the score;
Then saw the rock
I grimly held,
Was one I’d seen before.
Oh, my! It had my fingerprint!
Beloved, could it be . . .
That this same stone that came
Was one I hurled at thee?
Hence, I’ll not aim its point thy
Nor hurl it back to thee;
I’ll bury it and ask our God
To forgive both thee and me.
Matthew 18:7, “Woe unto the world
because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to
that man by whom the offence cometh!” Notice the word “offence.” Simply
stated, an offence is a stumblingblock. It is the leading or attempting
to lead another to do wrong, or to prevent another from doing right. This
may be done purposely or it may be a stumblingblock that is dropped by
negligence or carelessness. In any case, our Lord plainly teaches that
to leave stumblingblocks is a fault. In some cases, it may be a grievous
fault; in other cases, a slight one. Nevertheless, it is wrong to lead
another into sin or to prevent another from doing good. These are called
These obstacles to good are found
in every church in America and every organization of every church. They
are found on Sunday school faculties, on Christian school faculties, on
deacon boards, in Christian school classrooms, church choirs, church staffs
and even in Christian colleges. Those who place purposely or carelessly
drop these stumblingblocks will attempt to lead the Christian into wrong
by offering them everything from a joint of marijuana to a juicy bit of
gossip. Let us notice how they operate.
1. They will lead you to do wrong
when they know it is wrong. This is the worst form of stumblingblocks.
There are those who know something is wrong, who will attempt to lead you
to do that wrong. It is done most commonly by those who are doing wrong
themselves and do not want to be alone in their wrongdoing. The tragedy
of it all is that it is often done in the name of friendship, which God
meant to be one of the greatest blessings of the Christian life. What a
tragedy when such a great blessing is perverted into a curse!
Sometimes the tempter will even
demand the price of losing his friendship if temptation is rejected and
resisted. He is leading you to believe that you may purchase his friendship
at this ridiculously high price! If this were possible, such is far from
being worth the purchase! A so-called friend who wishes his solaced friend
to do wrong in order to keep his friendship is no friend at all! When you
attempt to purchase friendship, it is always counterfeit. This tempting
may be done by someone who is addicted to narcotics attempting to ensnare
another in his habit. It may be done by a young person demanding proof
of the love of a member of the opposite sex by insisting that person join
him in immorality. It may be done by one who is disloyal to leadership
attempting to lead another to share his disloyalty.
Nearly every week I receive phone
calls from pastors having internal problems in their churches. The story
is always the same; it never varies. When a pastor tells me he is having
trouble in his church, I can write the script. For that matter, the script
is already written. Some man of prominence in the church is attempting
to hurt the pastor, his ministry and his leadership. He is not satisfied
with his own sin; he wants others to join him and so he places stumblingblocks
in the path of the loyalty of others. Many sincere people have stumbled
over these blocks and have been caused much grief in days to come.
This behavior is as old as mankind.
Moses and Aaron faced the same thing that the sincere pastors face today.
Numbers 16:1-3, “Now Korah, the son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son
of Levi, and Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, and On, the son of Peleth,
sons of Reuben, took men: and they rose up before Moses, with certain of
the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly,
famous in the congregation, men of renown: and they gathered themselves
together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, Ye take too
much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them,
and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above
the congregation of the Lord?”
Notice in verse 2, “And they rose
up before Moses.” Notice in verse 3, “And they gathered themselves together
against Moses and against Aaron.”
Now notice in verse 2 who they were.
Look at the words, “two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous
in the congregation, men of renown.” The Devil hasn’t changed his methods,
has he? The same thing happens today as it did over three millenniums ago.
Now notice their charges in verse
3, “Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy.” Notice
later on in verse 3, “Wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation
of the Lord?” Everything that goes around comes around, and Satan is not
very original. His methods are the same from generation to generation.
2. They will lead you to do what
they do not think is wrong but what you think is wrong. They
want to convince you that you should go against your conscientious convictions,
and they want to persuade you to disobey your scruples. “Nothing is wrong
with that!” is never spoken by a true friend. A true friend will allow
you to have your own convictions and will want you to abide by them and
live by them. He will respect your convictions and not attempt to lower
yours to his.
3. They will lead you not to
do right. It is wrong if we make Christian duty and the Christian
life difficult to our fellow Christians when we should do our best to make
it easy We have tremendous power over each other. Our personalities, our
conversation and our habits are almost sure in some degree either to help
or hinder each other. One may encourage and tempt another to do wrong by
good-natured behavior when his friend is doing wrong, or he may prove his
friendship by being disagreeable when his friend is about to do wrong.
What I am saying is that we may try to help a friend in such a way as to
provoke him or perplex him, so we are not only to refrain from leading
another to doing wrong, but we should actively encourage him to do right.
How then should the one be treated
who becomes a stumblingblock and who places stumblingblocks in our path
1. Do not become a stumblingblock
to him by stumbling over his stumblingblock. The tempter sins against
the tempted, but when the tempted yields, he likewise sins against the
tempter. He has placed a crown of evil on the other man’s sin of being
the tempter. He has completed the job attempted by the tempter, and just
as the one who is tempting him has aided in his sin, his committing the
sin has also added to the sin of the one who tempted him.
If we refuse to stumble over the
stumblingblock, we save the one who placed it there from committing an
even greater evil and, for that matter, another evil. The tempter cannot
become the accomplice to a crime that has not been committed, so in a sense
when we yield to his temptation, we sin against him, even as he sinned
against us. The tempter sins when placing the stumblingblock in the path
of the tempted. The tempted sins when he stumbles. He also causes the tempter
to sin twofold because the tempter’s sin is now completed and doubled.
Let us illustrate. A man who is
drinking offers another a drink. He has sinned in so doing because he has
placed a stumblingblock in the path of righteousness of the one who is
offered the drink. When the one who is tempted takes the drink, he sins;
but he has also sinned against the one who offered him the drink, who sinned
in drinking, who sinned in tempting his neighbor to drink, and has now
become an accomplice in his neighbor’s sin of drink. He now is guilty of
three sins instead of two.
A young man tries to seduce a young
woman into immorality He sins in so doing, but the young woman who yields
has completed his sin and the seducer’s sin is now twofold.
2. Refuse immediately. Psalm
119:60, “I made haste, and delayed not to keep Thy commandments.” The easiest
time to refuse evil is NOW. It is often very hard not only to do what is
right, but to do it at the time that right should be done. This Psalm not
only exalts the doing of right but the doing of right immediately Every
Christian is bound not only to be obedient to the call of duty but to be
instantly obedient to that call. There is a tremendous difference between
the beauty of obedience, which has the spontaneity of a little child running
to do something for Mother who finds a delightful pleasure in the sense
of obedience, and that obedience which comes unwillingly and which is done
slowly as if it is no more than an absolute MUST.
In practically every case of obedience,
delay makes it more difficult. Nothing can be gained by cautious procrastinating
obedience. That obedience does not become easier but harder. There is no
obedience as delightful as ready obedience. It brings a charm with it.
It prevents many temptations by simply giving them no time to do their
work. It conquers many difficulties by its own impulse, and it leaves us
with a warm awareness that we belong to God and we are wanting to please
Him. It also saves us oftentimes from committing sin because as has been
stated, the easiest time to refuse is NOW!
When such instant refusal is performed
enough times, it will become instinctive. It will become a part of the
subconscious and hence, becomes character. Character is the subconscious
doing of right. It is the doing of right by reflex. It is resisting temptation
3. Do not travel with those who
carry stumbling blocks. In every church and church organization, there
are such people. It is not difficult for us to know who they are. If we
are wise, we will be nice to them, courteous to them and gracious to them,
but we will not travel with them.
There is a divided four lane interstate
highway leading from the Hammond area to Indianapolis, Indiana. It is Interstate
65. This highway goes through no towns, has few if any stops and is, of
course, divided four lane all the way. Then there is the old highway that
leads to Indianapolis. It is Highway 41. Leaving the Hammond area on Highway
41, one must go through Highland, Indiana, Where there are at least five
or six stoplights; Schererville, Indiana, where there are two more stoplights.
He must then go through St. John, Indiana; Cedar Lake, Indiana; and other
small towns and cities along the way. The person who wants to take the
fastest and safest trip to Indianapolis will certainly choose Interstate
65. He will not condemn Highway 41, criticize Highway 41 or gossip about
Highway 41; he will simply forget Highway 41. Highway 41 will not be a
part of his thinking processes as he journeys to Indianapolis; he simply
takes the road without the stumblingblocks. The wise Christian will do
the same thing. He will take the road not traveled by the one who lays
stumblingblocks in his way. He will not criticize him or attempt to hurt
him; he will simply not be aware that he exists. He is too busy traveling
with those who want to help him in righteousness and not be his accomplice
Why do Christian people (or for that matter, any
people) have strife between themselves? The answer plainly and simply is,
“unfulfilled appetites.” We had a desire or appetite to receive
something which we did not receive. We had a desire or an appetite to be
treated in a certain way, and the desired treatment never came. In other
words, we did not get the thing or the treatment that we wanted. Of course,
the secret to avoiding the strife caused by these unfulfilled appetites
is to have sanctified appetites and to keep our wants and desires within
the limits of our ability to have.
A good definition of riches would
be as follows: “the balancing of wants and possessions.” So, there are
two ways to be rich. One is being able to afford what one wants, and the
other is wanting only what one can afford. The secret is the balancing
of the wants and the possessions. I am rich if I can get what I want. I
am rich if I want what I have.
Most of us will never be able to
get what an unrestrained appetite would want us to have, but all of us
can balance the equation and become rich by asking God to sanctify our
appetites and our wants. Psalm 37:4, “Delight thyself also in the Lord;
and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” The average casual
reader of the Bible could misunderstand this passage. We could mistakenly
think that God is telling us that if we want a Rolls Royce car, we can
have it; if we want a half million dollar house, we can have it; if we
want a $25,000 diamond ring, we can have it. This application is totally
contrary to the teaching of the Scripture. In the first place, if we delight
ourselves in the Lord, our desires can be sanctified and we can grow to
want what we have. God is not saying here that He will increase what we
have to fulfill the lust of the carnal nature. He is saying that if we
delight ourselves in Him, our desires will become equal with our possessions.
Some interpret the Scripture to
mean that if we delight ourselves in the Lord, He will give us what we
want. I rather prefer to believe that God is saying if we delight ourselves
in the Lord, He will give us what TO want, and when He is saying He will
give us our desires, I feel that He is saying that He will give us our
appetites as well as the fulfillment of our appetites. It may be in that
some cases He will increase our possessions to equal our desires. It may
be that other cases He will lower our desires to equal our possessions.
Whichever it is, it is simply the balancing of the equation, which in the
end makes one rich, for he has what he wants and wants what he has.
This is the same thing that God
is telling us in John 15:7, “If ye abide in Me, and My words abide in you,
ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” We emphasize
the part of that verse which tells us to ask what we want and we can get
it. God is emphasizing the part that says, “If ye abide in Me, and My words
abide in you.” The word “abide” implies “to live.” If we live in and for
and through Christ and His Word lives in and through us, our appetites
become sanctified and God can give us carte blanche and power of attorney
to ask what we will because He trusts what we WILL ask. We cannot be so
trusted unless we abide in Him and His words abide in us.
Romans 8:28 would certainly shed
some light on this truth: “And we know that all things work together for
good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His
purpose.” Once again God is reminding us that spiritual people may feel
free to ask what they want because God can trust their wants. We like to
think that if we love God and are in His will, everything will work out
for our good, and this certainly is true. However, what we think of as
being good changes when we love God and are living in His will. The very
same thing that was going to happen to us becomes for our good if we love
Him and if we are in His will.
Let’s suppose that a Christian is
not living in the will of God and is not filled with love for Christ. The
events that come his way do not work for his good. However, take those
same events and put them in his path under different conditions, those
conditions being that he now loves God and is in the will of God, and they
will work for his good. Once again, the difference is in the appetite.
When a person delights himself in the Lord as in Psalm 37:4, and abides
in Christ and God’s words abide in him, and he loves God and lives in the
will of God, he then has sanctified appetites that make it possible for
his desires and possessions to be equal, which is in the final analysis
the definition of riches.
The wise Christian will not allow
himself to possess appetites that cannot be filled. It is a blessed truth
that if he meets the conditions of the aforementioned Scriptures, his appetites
will be inside the will of God; and any appetite that is inside the will
of God will be filled by God, for He promises to give us the desires of
our hearts if those desires have been purified and sanctified.
This leads us to another thought,
and that is, WE WANT WHAT WE GIVE.
1. We want the same type love
that we give.Even our Lord came to Peter and asked, “Lovest thou Me?”
The word here for love is the word that is used for God’s love. It is a
deep, abiding love. Peter answered, “Thou knowest that I love Thee,” but
Peter’s word for love was the love that we would call something like fondness.
Jesus was saying, “Peter, do you deeply love Me?” and Peter was saying,
“Lord, Thou knowest that I am fond of Thee.” Jesus, in using the word for
deep love, was actually saying, “Peter, do you love Me like I love you?”
Jesus can make such a request because His love is perfect, but for us to
want to be loved like we love can create an unfulfilled appetite. Our appetite
should be to love deeply rather than to be loved deeply.
Years ago when our son, David, was
Youth Director at First Baptist Church, an interesting thing happened.
It was commencement night for Hammond Baptist High School. After commencement
had ended, I had an appointment with one of our ladies. While I was counseling
with her, there was a knock on my door. I went to the door and David was
at the door crying uncontrollably and asking for me to speak with him for
a few moments. I told him that I had an appointment, and he said, “Dad,
I’ve got to see you right now! It’s an emergency! It can’t wait!”
I asked the little lady with whom
I was counseling if she would wait, and I stepped across the hallway into
my secretary’s office so Dave and I could be alone. I said, “What’s the
He said, “Dad, it just dawned on
me that those young people that just graduated are no longer in our youth
department. I have lost them!” (I think this was the first group that David
had lost since being Youth Director.) “I love them, Dad! It just dawned
on me that I don’t have them any more, and Dad, I just had to get with
somebody who could love me like I love them. That’s why, Dad, I had to
be with you.”
I said, “You found him, Doc,” and
I hugged him and we shared some tender moments together.
Now the truth is that Dave’s appetite
was filled, but suppose that he had had that appetite hundreds of miles
from his dad. He would have had a tough evening, because there would have
been no fulfillment of his appetite.
The wise Christian will let his
appetite be to love. That can always be fulfilled because it is within
the grasp of his will. Don’t misunderstand this. I am not saying that we
should not want to be loved, but I am saying we should not want to be loved
exactly like we love, because no one loves exactly alike, which is why
God made us all different. Each of us has a unique way of loving Christ
that no one else has, and since each love, though given by God and with
God as its source, is different, it is impossible for us to be loved exactly
like we love. So, if someone doesn’t love us like we want to be loved,
and if we want to be loved like we love, it is easy to be upset.
There are few things that hurt as
much as wanting to be loved like we love and not being loved that way.
This hurt is increased the more deeply one loves, because the more refined
one’s love is, the harder it is to find reciprocation. This also makes
it easier to be lonely What I am saying is that the Christian should find
the presence of his joy in loving, and then perhaps he can find the degree
of that joy in being loved. In other words, I have joy simply because I
love you. Now if you return that love, it increases my JOY,
if you do not, my joy is still present.
So whether it be possessions or
treatment, there is an atmosphere conducive to strife if I want something
and do not receive it. You did not treat me the way I wanted you to treat
me. You did not say what I wanted you to say. You did not do what I wanted
you to do. You did not give me what I wanted you to give me. You did not
express to me what I wanted you to express to me. In other words, you did
not fulfill my appetites.
2. We want the same type expressions
of love that we give. There are certain ways that each of us
says, “I love you,” and most of us want love to be expressed the same way
we express love. We want to get what we give. For example, men and women
do not express love the same way. Many marriages have to endure strife
because the husband wants the wife to love him the same way that he loves
her and to express it the same way. Now to be sure, the wise wife will
try to find the expressions of her love that her husband would desire,
but the basic fact is that men and women do not express their love to each
other in the same way. The man may just want a quick hug and kiss. The
woman may want soft music and atmosphere. The man calls the woman unaffectionate,
and the woman calls the man unromantic. This is because the appetites have
conformed to each one’s own expressions of love. A certain expression of
love is wanted and though the love may be expressed, since it is not what
was wanted, it often causes strife.
In a sense, this is almost what
could be called mental homosexuality. For example, a man may want a woman’s
love, but he may want it to be mentally the same love that he gives her.
In other words, he wants her to love him emotionally and mentally like
a man, but she is not a man! She is a woman, and she must love him emotionally
and mentally as a woman would love him. So, instead of wanting his love
returned, it is much better for him simply to want whatever type love that
God has given her for him to be expressed in her own way, not in his!
This same thing could be true between
the young and the old. This is one reason that teenagers and adults have
a difficult time understanding each other. The parent kisses the teenager.
The teenager seems indifferent, which causes the parent to be displeased
and causes strife. The wise parent will let the teenager love like the
teenager loves. Teenagers cannot return adult love to adults. They can
only give teenage love. The wise parent will accept it with rejoicing and
gratitude in whatever manner of expression the teenager uses.
3. We want the same type logic
that we give. We want others to logic like we logic, and an
appetite is created for us to receive that kind of logic. Since all people
do not logic alike, that appetite is often unsatisfied, and strife is a
result! A man may want a woman to logic like he does, while a woman may
want a man to logic like she does. An adult may want a teenager to logic
as an adult, and the teenager may want the adult to logic like a teenager.
When such appetites are created or allowed to exist, they are often unfulfilled
and cause strife. In other words, I want you to see things exactly as I
see them. When you do not see things exactly as I see them, my appetite
Recently I was preaching in another
state. I told the people that I would appreciate it if they would help
me to be heard by helping to prevent any unnecessary interruptions in the
service. I was to be there for only two nights, and certainly I would not
want, for example, a crying baby to limit the effectiveness of my message.
I wanted to help the people! After I had preached a few minutes, a baby
began to cry (at least I thought it was a baby) in the back of the auditorium.
The people in that section were disturbed and unable to follow the message.
I stopped the service and asked whoever had the baby to take it to the
nursery Someone got up and left, and I thought that they had granted my
request. The disturbance was stopped and we had a wonderful service. After
the service, a lady came to talk to me who was very disturbed! She told
me that she was the one who had the child who misbehaved, but that the
child was not a baby! The “child” was an afflicted teenager, and the lady
was very disturbed that I had asked her to remove her daughter. I went
out to the car where the daughter and the rest of the family were waiting
for the lady, and I saw the child. It was a tragic thing! Though she was
in her late teen years, her little body was deformed, and it was a heartbreak
It was obvious that the lady was
wanting me to apologize for asking her to take the child out of the service
when she was causing a disturbance. I certainly expressed my compassion,
my sympathy and my love, but I could not tell her that I would not do the
same thing again. As a preacher, I had a message to deliver! It was to
me the most important thing in the world! As a mother, she had a child
that she felt had been mistreated, and that was the most important thing
to her! It would have been totally impossible for us to logic the same
way. Because of that, I was not offended in the least. I had no appetite
for her to logic as I did. Because of that, I had nothing but love toward
her. On the other hand, the dear lady wanted me to logic as she did. She
had an appetite for me to do so, and it was impossible for me to satisfy
this appetite. Of course, her family shared her feelings, and they had
ill will toward me. The reason for this ill will was that they had a desire
for me to logic as they did. I had no ill will toward them because I did
not have a desire for them to see it my way. I didn’t blame them at all
for seeing it their way. Consequently, she had a want that could not be
balanced with a possession. I had no such want.
Now let us suppose for a moment
that I had the same appetite that she had had. Suppose that I just could
not understand it because she couldn’t see it my way. Why couldn’t she
understand that a preacher’s message is so important! Why couldn’t she
understand because that I had traveled 700 miles to bring two messages,
I certainly wanted to be heard and must be heard! Why couldn’t she understand
that I was not being selfish in the matter! I was wanting to help people,
and there were hundreds of people there who needed to be helped, and the
disturbance caused by her child was preventing them from receiving that
If I had insisted in my own mind
that our logic be reconciled, I would have been as disturbed with her as
she was with me. This is where strife originates. “Why can’t you see it
my way?” “I just don’t understand you.” “You’re not making sense.” These
are statements that represent the cause of strife. I think the way we put
it usually is that we just don’t see it eye to eye. If we don’t see eye
to eye, and if both of us insist that we see eye to eye, there is strife.
On the other hand, if both of us could express our opinions, not desiring
a reconciling of logic, we can disagree and not have strife.
This is what causes strife in our
churches. Far too many of us have appetites that warrant certain treatment.
When that treatment does not come, there is strife. The same thing causes
strife at home, at work and at play. On the other hand, if our appetite
is to love others, to express that love to others, and to help others,
then that appetite can be fulfilled.
Do not want to be treated in a certain
way; rather, want to treat the other person properly Do not want expressions
of gratitude; rather, want to express gratitude. Do not want folks to appreciate
you; just want to appreciate them. Most of our problems in our churches
would be solved if our desires, wants and appetites were purified and sanctified!
In an athletic contest the offense
always has the advantage because the offense knows the play. They determine
the action. The defense reacts to the action of the offense, which places
them at a severe handicap. For example, in football a wide receiver runs
down the field to catch a pass. He knows whether he is going to stop abruptly,
cut to the right, cut to the left or run full speed ahead. He knows where
the ball is to be thrown and where he is to be when the ball is thrown.
The defensive man has no idea. He simply has to react to the actions of
the offensive player.
The Christian should stay on the
offense! Reaction means that someone else is determining your behavior.
Only you can destroy yourself No one else can destroy you unless you allow
him to do so. The only thing that can destroy a person is self destruction,
and self destruction is caused by improper reaction. Consequently, one
can be destroyed by another only when the actions of the enemy cause an
One of the interesting and sad things
about improper reaction is that we react to our reaction. In other words,
if someone provokes another to improper reaction, he then reacts to his
own reaction and digs a deeper hole. Reaction takes a person away from
the control of his own destiny. There are several things that should be
considered concerning action and reaction.
1. Do not spend casual time with
people who entice you to react wrongly. There are people whose behavior
causes an unwise reaction. They may “rub you the wrong way.” Find out who
these people are and don’t let them rub you. There are some people whose
actions may cause one to react with quick temper. There are people whose
actions would cause one to react with slothfulness. There are people whose
actions would cause one to react with yielding to temptation. There are
people whose actions would cause one to react with bitterness. Be nice
to these people. Work with them if you must, but do not spend casual time
with them. Everything should be planned when you are together so as not
to give the person a chance to exhibit his behavior or actions that would
cause an unwise reaction on your part.
2. Do not read materials that
make you react unwisely. I grew up in Dallas, Texas. Because of that
I grew up following the Dallas sports teams. This has made me a rabid Dallas
Cowboy fan, a Dallas Maverick fan and a fan of nearly all the sports teams
in and around Dallas. Then, too, I am interested in the news of my hometown.
Because of this, for years I have taken a Dallas newspaper. At first I
subscribed to one of the two newspapers, but there is a sports writer in
one of those papers who has a terrible habit of unnecessary and extreme
criticism of the local sports teams. He is so cynical that just to read
his column stirs me to anger and almost contempt. One day I reminded myself
that I did not have to subscribe to that newspaper, so I changed my subscription
to the other Dallas paper. This was done because I did not want to read
that which made me react unwisely. The same would apply to radio talk shows,
television talk shows, television preachers, etc. There are some talk shows
that I know will provoke me to anger and disgust and will cause me to react
unwisely. Since I do not want my behavior controlled by liberals, humanists,
modernists and critics, I do not listen to them, read their articles or
subscribe to their publications.
I know many preachers whose preaching
is simply that of reaction. They read things all week that make them mad,
and then they preach on Sunday against those things. This makes for interesting
preaching and will keep a good crowd coming for a little while, but it
is preaching that is simply reacting to improper stimuli and will not build
great Christians. Do not misunderstand me. I believe in preaching against
sin, but one is supposed to hate sin, not because an undesirable creature
is for it; he is supposed to hate sin because it is contrary to the will
of God and the good of man. The right kind of a preacher will not need
the enemy to provoke him to anger. He can provoke himself to anger by the
realization of the awfulness of the sin. Much of our preaching against
sin is not preaching against sin; it is preaching against sinners!
The wise Christian will not allow
himself to be exposed to those things that take his initiative away and
enable his behavior to simply be a series of reactions to someone else
who has turned him on by their actions.
3. Be oblivious to what makes
you react unwisely. I travel every week. I preach hundreds of
sermons a year all over America. (In fact, this chapter is being dictated
as I drive down the side of a mountain in the northwest part of our country.)
I sometimes have to sit through music that could cause me to react. When
such is the case, I become oblivious to that music, and during the song
service and during the special music I discipline my mind to be on something
else, usually on the message I am to preach and the truth I am to present.
Occasionally a preacher who speaks before me will say things contrary to
the truth. The temptation is for me to leave what God has given me for
the congregation and to start chasing that preacher. In so doing, I get
to blow off some steam and get to tell the preacher and the people what
I thought about the first sermon, and the people go without what God had
given me for them! Normally I simply think of the great truth that I am
going to present and become oblivious to the first preacher.
On two occasions in my ministry
after I preached a sermon, the pastor of the church where I preached stood
to tell the people that he did not agree with my sermon and he took several
minutes expressing points of disagreement and reasons for the disagreement!
In one instance I had to preach again within 15 minutes. The other time
I had to preach again that evening. Of course, the natural tendency is
for me to make my rebuttal in the next message, but the natural tendency
is not usually right, so in both cases I proceeded to preach the message
that I was going to preach without making a rebuttal at all. Why should
I cause the people to suffer because I had been injured! Why should I preach
a reactionary sermon when I had already decided the course of action that
I felt the Holy Spirit wanted me to follow!
4. Plan your reactions. By
that I mean, foresee battles that may arise and times when you will be
compelled by conviction and circumstances to respond to someone else’s
behavior. Take some time. Sit down for awhile. Think of possible actions
that you may have to follow and to which you may have to respond. Decide
beforehand what you are going to say and do. Do not let the spur of the
moment cause you to react unwisely but in the prayerful quiet of your own
study or room, decide yourself what your reaction will be to certain forms
of behavior. This changes your reaction to action, since you have decided
what you are going to do before the other person has done it. This enables
you to have more time to decide. It enables you to decide before the heat
of the battle, and it enables you to decide without emotion.
Twenty-eight years ago I became
Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond. The first year was a hectic
one. People set themselves against my ministry and made serious attempts
to force my resignation. A special night was set when we would thrash out
the problems and the people would be allowed to ask me questions from the
floor. For hours I sat in the basement of our parsonage and tried to predict
what questions would be asked. I came to the conclusion that each question
that would be asked me would be one of seventeen. I wrote these seventeen
questions and made a full page outline as to how I would answer each question
when and if it were asked. Though all the questions were not asked at this
special meeting, there were no questions asked that were not on my list.
Consequently, when each question was asked, I did not have to react, for
I had planned my reaction beforehand, making it an action. So when the
question was asked, I simply pulled out the prepared answer and read it.
This was done calmly without emotion and not in a reactionary spirit. Ibis
probably saved the First Baptist Church of Hammond for the cause of fundamentalism
and probably for the cause of usefulness. Any time one expects behavior
that would tempt to improper reaction, he would be wise to plan his reactions
to that behavior, making his reactions not reactions at all but actions
because they were planned before the behavior was planned.
1) Plan your reaction to criticism.
flesh hates to be criticized, and when criticism comes, it is often prompt
in retaliating with unwise reaction. The wise Christian will have a course
of action already planned that he may follow when criticism arises.
2) Plan your reaction to things
that anger you. Each of us knows things that more readily provoke him.
When such actions occur, the temptation is greater to react unwisely. The
wise Christian will list these -provocative things and will prepare in
advance his reaction to them.
3) Plan the things for which
you would fight. No one should fight impulsively Consequently,
the person with character will plan the things for which he would fight
and will plan the manner of the fight. He will not fight in response to
temporary provocation; he will fight only for those things that are predetermined
and in a manner that is predetermined.
I have a list of things written
down and placed in a drawer in my office for which I would fight. I have
a list of things for which I would die. Consequently, I will not fight
or die in a quick response to an impulse. My fighting, even unto the death,
will be predetermined in the prayerful quiet of my office.
Someone perhaps would say, “I just
don’t believe in turning it on and off like that.” Nor do I believe that.
I find it impossible to turn it on and off, but I find it possible to turn
on what turns it on and turn off what turns it off. In other words, I can
control what controls me and not allow myself to be controlled by the passion
of an immediate response to a stimulus that causes me to react unwisely
I do this concerning the church
services. I prayerfully decide in the quiet of my study what my reaction
would be when a baby begins to cry in the service. I likewise decide what
my action would be if baby continues to cry in the service. I have planned
action that I carry out when I am disturbed briefly in a service and other
planned action for disturbances I know will not end without my help. This
prevents me from acting impulsively and doing something for which I will
be sorry later. The people in the audience may or may not agree with my
response to the disturbance, but I will have done what I think is best
because it is what I thought was best in the quiet of my study before the
5. Learn to whom you can trust
your reactions. There are some people with whom you can feel
perfectly comfortable and whom you can completely trust not to lead you
to unwise reaction. Know these people. They are usually people who think,
philosophize and would rather speak of ideas than of people. Someone has
said, “Great minds speak about ideas; good minds speak about things; weak
minds speak about people.”
I am thinking now of a dear friend,
Pastor Bruce Porter, in Islamorada, Florida. For many years I have preached
for him. I have learned that I can trust my reactions to him. He will not
provoke me to unwise reactions. He wants to learn. He wants to talk about
ideas that are constructive. He does not indulge in people-talk, so I feel
perfectly at ease to have a casual conversation with him. In fact, I enjoy
doing so. He meets me at the airport when I make my annual visit to his
church. I do not make plans concerning our conversation. I do not need
to, for I know he will provoke me to good thoughts and not to unwise reactions.
On the contrary, there are other
people to whom I cannot trust my reactions. I would find myself on the
defensive. I would find myself not wanting to talk about other people,
and I have learned that their conversation would tempt me to reactions
that would be unwise and perhaps even divisive.
The wise person will discover such
people in order to find out to whom he can and cannot trust his reactions.
In the case of the latter, you might want to plan the conversation and
think of some questions that you could ask him in order that you may control
the conversation, making it necessary for him to react to your behavior
rather than your reacting to his behavior.
6. Spread the word that you do
not participate in criticism. Let it be known that you are not
interested in character assassinations nor personality critiques. Word
will soon get around, and you will have the reputation for not being critical.
People will either respect what they know is your desire or they will be
fearful of approaching you with negative subjects,
For years I have traveled the length
and breadth of this nation. It is understood all across America that there
are certain subjects about which I do not speak. My reputation precedes
me, which makes it much easier for me to avoid situations that would be
tempting to unwise reaction.
7. Do not live in unplanned situations.
time is one of the great causes for unnecessary and unwise reaction. Just
sitting around and talking with nothing planned leads to differences, arguments,
fusses and reactionary conversation.
One of the great problems of our
society is that it is built on critique. It is falsely assumed by many
that the ability to critique someone is a sign of strength. Nothing could
be farther from the truth! To attack the strong is not a sign of strength.
To do nothing but critique those who do something is certainly not a sign
of strength. The time was, for example, when the local sports writer was
a cheerleader for the local team. He has now become the Devil’s advocate
and is considered somewhat of a successful sports writer if he can criticize
the coach. Men who have never carried a football, thrown a pass, kicked
a field goal or made a tackle seem to know more about coaching than men
who have coached for a lifetime. The pew critiques the pulpit. The student
critiques the teacher, and the press critiques everybody! One can hardly
listen to a radio station without finding movie critics, restaurant critics
and a bevy of other self-styled experts whose only talent is criticizing
talent, whose only strength is criticizing strength, whose only accomplishment
is shooting at those who have accomplished.
God, give us men who act, not men
who react! Give us men with the character to determine their behavior and
who decide their own course of action!
Ephesians 5:21-29, “Submitting yourselves one
to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands,
as unto the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ
is the head of the church: and He is the saviour of the body. Therefore
as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own
husbands in every thing. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also
loved the church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse
it with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present it to Himself
a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but
that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their
wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For
no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it,
even as the Lord the church.”
Ephesians 6:1, 4, 5, “Children, obey your parents
in the Lord: for this is right. And, ye fathers, provoke not your children
to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh,
with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ.”
Ephesians 5:21 is a startling verse, “Submitting
yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” In a church or a family
or a business or in any group relationship, each of us at some time is
a leader and at some time a follower. Joe may be Bill’s Sunday school teacher,
but Bill may be the deacon chairman while Joe is a deacon. Joe may be manager
of the softball team, while Bill may be Joe’s choir director. One of the
great necessities of a successful church is that each member realize the
area in which he is a leader and the area in which he is a follower and
learn to fill each position with grace, propriety and dispatch.
In any organization there are several groups
of people, as follows:
1. Followers of leaders. I Corinthians
4: 10, “We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are
weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised.”
I Corinthians 11:1, “Be ye followers of me, even
as I also am of Christ.”
Philippians 3:7, “But what things were gain to
me, those I counted loss for Christ.”
In any organization this is the mass of the members.
One of the great weaknesses rising on the scene in America is that so few
people are trained to be followers. There is nothing undignified about
being a follower. The follower is as important as the leader. Athletic
contests are won by athletes who know how to follow and are trained to
do so. America used to win wars when we trained our young men to be followers.
We say we believe in majority rule, and this is
right. However, majority rule does not mean majority opinion. Following
majority opinion is anarchy Following majority rule is democracy We choose
people to lead us and make important decisions for us. An athletic team
has a captain who calls the plays. The captain may be chosen by the team,
but the captain calls the plays. On a football team, the quarterback calls
the plays, or in some cases, the plays are called by the coach. There would
be neither time nor proper organization if the team voted in the huddle
what play to run. Imagine how long it would take for someone to make a
motion that we throw a pass to the right wide receiver, someone else makes
a motion that the fullback carries the ball through the center of the line,
someone else makes a motion for a quick kick, and the quarterback asks
then if there is any discussion! Each member of the team is allowed to
discuss the motion. Then the quarterback calls for a vote, and the majority
opinion decides on the play. A long time before the decision was made,
the team would have been penalized for delay of game. You can’t run a team
that way; you can’t run a nation that way, and you can’t run a church that
way (though this seems to be the way the Congress wants to run our foreign
Once the leader is chosen, then the followers
follow him. This does not mean that the leader is stronger than the follower;
it simply means that in this particular area, he would have more ability
to make the fight decisions. Of course, the wise leader will often seek
the advice and counsel of followers before making his decision, but the
decision should be his. The follower should be loyal to that decision.
This is the way wars are won, championships are won, and souls are won!
Let the church choose a choir director and let him make the decisions for
the choir. Don’t saddle him with a music committee to nip at his heels.
Let the choir follow.
Let the youth director make the decisions about
the youth program. Choose one and follow him. Don’t saddle him with a youth
committee as an albatross around his neck.
In some churches it takes seven days for a committee
of five to decide what kind and color of flowers to put on the communion
table on Sunday. Let someone be chosen to be in charge of the flowers and
send the committee out soul winning! If a business were run like the average
church, it would go bankrupt. If a nation were run like the average church,
it would go under. (In some ways it seems like our nation is run almost
that way now.)
Choose a bus director and let that bus director
make the decisions concerning the bus ministry. Do not appoint a bus committee
to hinder the progress. Democracy is not voting on every issue but choosing
our leaders and letting them lead. Of course, there are times for the need
of a public referendum, but these are rare occasions and for special purposes.
A church should choose a pastor, vote him in democratically
and then let him be the pastor. Do not appoint a committee to approve who
fills the pulpit in his absence. Let the pastor choose. Do not have a board
or a committee to approve his speaking engagements outside the church and
to approve whatever advisory boards he sits on outside the church. Choose
the pastor and let him be the pastor.
There are three words in the Bible all of which
deal with the same office, pastor, elder and bishop. The title of pastor
means that God’s man should be careful to protect his people from false
doctrine and heresy, as the shepherd protected his sheep from serpents
and wild beasts and as he fed them. The title of elder signifies experience
and wisdom as the pastor guides his people with the decisions of life.
The title of bishop means overseer. A pastor is chosen democratically by
the people, not to lead the church by majority opinion, but by wise leadership
after having been chosen by majority vote.
Let no one mistake this for the pastor borrowing
money for the church or building a building without a church vote, but
the people should follow pastoral leadership. He is trained for the job
and has been democratically voted to the job.
Years ago a deacon in a certain church informed
me that the deacons of the church were not pleased with my preaching and
asked if a meeting could be held to discuss my preaching. I agreed to such
a meeting. The time was set for Monday night at 7:00 in one of the Sunday
school rooms at the church. About 10:00 that night the deacon called me
and asked me where I was. I said, “I’m at home.”
He said, “Why didn’t you come to the meeting?”
I said, “What meeting?”
He said, “You told me we could have a meeting
to discuss your preaching,” and I said, “You can. You can have a meeting
every night if you want to discuss my preaching, but I won’t be there.
That’s between me and God, not between me and the deacon board.”
Years ago a deacon said to me, “Pastor, concerning
your preaching . . . .”
I said, “Hold it. When we build a building, you
get one vote. When we borrow money, you get one vote, but when I walk in
the pulpit, you don’t get no vote! Two and two is four; the sun rises in
the east and sets in the west; the pope is a Catholic; and my preaching
is between me and God.”
This group that we call followers of leaders is
only such in one particular phase of the work, but each organization needs
people who love to follow and who are self confident enough to yield, who
are loyal and faithful.
The wise follower loves strength. He will be happy
to follow strength and would be wise to study the leader to find the qualities
he possesses in order for him to know those qualities if he is chosen someday
to lead in some endeavor.
2. Leaders of followers.This is the second
1) These people come from good followers. No
one will I make a good leader unless he has first been a follower. He must
know the heartbeat of the follower. He must have compassion and empathy
toward the follower.
2) He does not want power; he just wants to
get things done. He has no desire to lead or to have people
subservient to him. He is lost in the necessity to accomplish a task. He
realizes that he has been chosen to a place of leadership that will require
him to lead in this task.
3) He doesn’t feel above the followers.He
feels that the position of leadership is not a position that is exalted
above that of the follower. He realizes that somebody has to lead, and
he has been chosen to do so. Perhaps another could have been chosen who
could have done the job as well as he, but he realizes that he has been
chosen for the job, so he accepts the responsibility, realizing that the
followers are his equals, not his inferiors.
4) He does not seek leadership. This
is one of the weaknesses of our system. Leadership is sought. The husband
reminds his wife of Ephesians 5:22, “Wives, submit yourselves unto your
own husbands, as unto the Lord,” and oftentimes that is his only right
to be the leader. To be sure, the wife should obey because the Bible says
to, but far be it from me to believe that a weak man should take that Scripture
and use it as a club! He should become strong and earn his wife’s followship,
convincing her that he is capable of leading. Now don’t misunderstand me.
She should follow whether he is capable or not. The Bible gives her that
command, but at no place in the Bible does it say, “Husbands, command your
wives. Husbands, boss your wives. Husbands, dictate to your wives.” Why
couldn’t a husband be the kind of man that his wife would want to follow!
What a delightful buffer this would give as Ephesians 5:22 is carried out!
There is nothing more disgusting than for some
little milquetoast to say in an effeminate way, “Matilda, you are supposed
to obey me; the Bible says you are!”
Yes, Matilda, you should obey little milquetoast,
but there is nothing in the Bible that says you have to enjoy it, and there
is nothing in the Bible that says he deserves it!
There are few things more disgusting than for
some little effeminate, papa called, mama fed, seminary bred preacher to
open the Bible to Hebrews 13:7 and 17 and remind his people that they are
supposed to follow him. Hebrews 13:7, 17, “Remember them which have the
rule over you, who have spoken unto you the Word of God: whose faith follow,
considering the end of their conversation. Obey them that have the rule
over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they
that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief:
for that is unprofitable for you.” Now, it is true that they are supposed
to follow, and the argument that I am presenting now gives no member a
right to rebel against his pastor, but it is far better when God’s man
works to become capable of leadership! Through loving his people, working
for their benefit, serving them, caring for them and ministering to them,
he convinces them that he is capable of being their leader. They, in turn,
follow him because they believe he is capable. Oh, yes, the letter of the
law says that they are supposed to obey him, but how much more beautiful
it is when God’s man loves his people and does not want to be a dictator
and has no desire to rule them. He simply realizes that he has been chosen
as their leader and feels that he is capable of doing it with God’s help.
He goes about doing his duty of leading them; and they, believing that
he can lead them, follow him.
5) He delivers followers to other leaders.For
example, if a man leads the church choir, he is a leader of followers,
but he also has a pastor whom he is to follow. He is to lead the church
choir to follow the pastor. If a man is the principal of a school which
is operated by a church, he should increase the loyalty of those whom he
leads to the pastor whom he follows. The wise and capable leader will realize
that there are leaders above him, and he should present his followers as
the most loyal followers of his leaders.
One of the sad things in our system is that so
many of our national leaders have never led anything. So many of our congressmen
graduated from college with a law degree or some other degree that put
them in a position in business where they built nothing. They run for office
on the basis of their charisma, charm and smile and are then elected as
leaders. These are not officers who are commissioned on the battlefield
because they have proven themselves as leaders, but rather chosen by a
popular vote. These men sit in the halls of Congress, but they have never
led a corporation; they have never built a business; they have never built
a church; they simply went to a liberal university, kissed a few babies,
shook several thousand hands, made a few television commercials and then
assumed a place of leadership without ever having been a leader.
On the other hand, the President appoints his
staff and his cabinet. He chooses men for his staff and cabinet who have
been successful as leaders in America. He chooses men who have headed great
corporations, men who have headed great armies, or men who have built empires.
On one side you have the President’s staff, chosen from the field of leadership,
business and success. On the other side you have a Congress where many
of its members have never built or led at all. We have seen in our generation
how easy it is for the President’s staff and cabinet to become impatient
with the other side. The followers are leading leaders; novices are placed
over successful men. Sometimes these men who have led in great corporations
step over the line and make some mistakes. They immediately are investigated
by the weaker ones who assert their right to leadership because the Constitution
and the laws give it to them. They are right, but they are also weak. The
temptation to do wrong was partially or maybe totally caused by their ineptness,
and so they (like the husband who takes Ephesians 5:22 and waves it in
front of his wife and the pastor who takes Hebrews 13:7 and 17 and waves
it before his people) take the Constitution and wave it before the successful
men who have crossed over a line because of their impatience in waiting
for the inept ones to do something! Then a committee is formed so there
can be a hearing where followship can interrogate leadership, where failure
can interrogate success, and where weakness can interrogate strength!
It is not hard to understand why a strong man
who is a leader steps across the line in an effort to do something to defend
America from Communism, when the often inept and weak people sit on their
hands while Communism invades our hemisphere.
We have seen in our day how colonels and admirals
who have been trained at West Point and Annapolis and who have been taught
how to be followers and how to be leaders are quizzed, disciplined and
censored by men who were trained in liberal, undisciplined state universities
and have been spawned by the permissive society and the situation ethics
of our generation. While these weak men in strong positions point the finger
of accusation at impatient and perhaps even erring strong men, somebody
should point the finger at these men whose “donothingness” left the vacuum
that was filled by the strong men who got out of bounds. Many of these
men who have gotten out of bounds in their over-zealousness to keep America
free, have been pushed out of bounds or pulled out of bounds because no
one in bounds was doing anything! I am not condoning lawbreaking, nor am
I condoning those who entice law-breaking. There are laws in our country
against rioting. There are also laws in our country against those who incite
a riot. There are laws in our country against certain crimes, and there
are also laws against those who aid those crimes and incite those crimes.
I contend that the people who are letting Communism take over America while
they preach their doctrine of disarmament and pacifism from college desks,
senate seats, congressional rostrums and even pulpits are just as guilty
as the patriots who are excessive in their defense of America. I am not
acquitting anyone; I am simply indicting some others!
3. Leaders of leaders. Deuteronomy 10:17,
“For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God,
a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.”
I Timothy 6:15, “Which in His times He shall shew, Who is the blessed and
only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.”
It is very interesting that Jesus is called King
of kings and Lord of lords. Not only is He a King of subjects, but He is
King over kings. Not only is He a Lord over followers, but He is Lord over
lords. There are some people who have been chosen by leaders to be their
leaders. Pastors who lead churches have men to whom they look for leadership.
Men who lead corporations have men to whom they look for leadership.
Here is where many churches stop growing. The
pastor is a leader of followers, and he takes the church as far as one
leader can take a church. Here is the place where he must become a leader
of leaders. He must choose men under him to lead different departments
of the church. He must delegate to them responsibility and some authority.
He must learn to share with these leaders his people and a part of his
domain. Of course, these leaders whom he leads should be fanatically loyal
to the pastor and should not steal any of the love that the people have
for the pastor. When a church reaches a certain size, its continued growth
numerically will depend upon the ability of the pastor to become a leader
of leaders. This is not easy. Some of the nice things the people have done
for the pastor, they will now do for the other leaders. The pastor will
have to share the banana puddings, the pecan pies and the pineapple upside
down cakes with those who work as his followers and as leaders of a portion
of his people.
1) This position should not be sought.All
true leadership should come from one who is so busy helping followers that
they will want him to be the leader. This is true with the leader of leaders.
He should be chosen by the leaders. This does not mean that he will be
elected; it means that he just unknowingly becomes the kind of person to
whom leaders look. The position is not sought; it just happens, or in some
cases of organizational structure, he is chosen without his applying for
Twenty-five years ago a man came to the First
Baptist Church of Hammond and told me that he was a pastor and that he
had heard of our church and wanted to learn something about the ministry
of our church. We put him in a guest room, kept him for the entire week
and let each staff member talk to him for one hour. His ministry was transformed.
He went back to his church in the western part of our nation, and his church
was transformed. He told a friend what had happened to him. The friend
contacted me and asked if he could come and spend a week learning from
our staff members concerning our work. We allowed him to do so. He had
a friend, and he came. He had a friend who came, and he had a friend who
came, until we were spending far too much time individually with pastors
each coming to spend a week. I got with the staff and we decided we would
have one week and announce it so that all who wanted to come could come.
It was to be a one-time situation. We simply got word around the country
that any pastor who wanted to come and spend a week and spend an hour with
each of our staff members could do so, but it would all happen at the same
time. To our total shock, 167 pastors from 19 states came. When that week
was over we never intended to do it again. Then requests came from all
over America concerning a repeat. Other pastors wanted to spend the same
week, so we did it the second year. For twenty-five consecutive years we
have had what we call our nationwide Pastors’ School, where pastors and
Christian workers come from all over America and from around the world.
Five to six thousand come each year to spend a week of training. (Last
year over 6,000 came from 48 states and 19 foreign countries.) We start
on Monday night, have sessions all day Tuesday and Tuesday night, all day
Wednesday and Wednesday night, all day Thursday and Thursday night, and
most of Friday.
Now I did not sit in my office one day and say,
“I would like to become a leader of leaders, and I’ve got to figure out
some way where I can have leaders to come here so I can be their leader.”
It never works that way! The position of becoming a leader of leaders just
The truth is, I don’t enjoy being an administrator
or an executive. I was reared a poor boy and had no intention at all of
ever being any kind of an executive. In fact, I didn’t like that word.
I was pastoring the Miller Road Baptist Church of Garland, Texas. We had
about 300 in attendance, and I was doing everything! I was leading the
choir, printing the church bulletin, turning on the lights and the heat,
typing letters to the visitors and new members, mimeographing the Sunday
school outline for the teachers and officers in addition to my pastoral
duties. I hired a secretary, and I had a hard time relinquishing the things
I was doing. This little secretary’s name was Jo Strickland. She did me
a favor, for which I could never adequately repay her. One day this little
short gal said to me, “Pastor, I have been a secretary for an insurance
executive, and you need to learn how to delegate responsibility and be
an executive.” I told her I didn’t even like the word. I wasn’t a big shot,
and I didn’t want to become one! She looked at me and very sincerely said,
“Pastor, I believe you could be a great preacher someday, but you are going
to limit yourself if you don’t learn to delegate responsibility. You will
never be able to build a big church unless you can administrate.” (What
she was saying was it was time for me to become a leader of leaders!) She
looked up at me and said, “Say this to me: ‘I am an executive!’”
I don’t know why I did, but I said it.
She said, “Say it over ten times,” and to my shock
I did it. Every morning when I came to work, she met me at the door and
required me to look down at her and say that phrase ten times: “I am an
executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am
an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive! I am an executive!
I am an executive! I am an executive!” What she was doing was helping me
to become a leader of leaders. This was a pivotal time in my ministry.
Every leader reaches the place on the ladder of success where he can no
longer continue to prosper or grow by just being a leader of followers.
He must become a leader of leaders.
2) The leader of leaders must learn to delegate.This
is hard for a zealous leader to do. Something that has helped me tremendously
is the awareness that if I have ten men who work for me, and if I think
I can do the job that each is doing better than he is doing it, I still
can get more done by letting him do his own job. Let’s suppose I have ten
men working for me, and that each of those ten men can only do his job
90% as effectively as I could do it. (Of course, this is not always the
case. Some of the men who work for me can do their jobs far better than
I could do them.) However, it dawned on me one day that I would get more
done by letting these men do their jobs, even though they could do them
only 90% as well as I could. It is simply a matter of mathematics. I cannot
do all the jobs, so I would rather have 10 men working at 90% efficiency
than one man working at 100% efficiency It is a mathematical fact of 900
to 100, so the leader of leaders must learn to delegate!
3) The leader of leaders must learn to share
glory. He must honor the leaders whom he leads. He must exalt
them in the minds of the followers.
Let me stop to say this: The leaders who are led
by the leader of leaders should not demand this kind of treatment. This
is an exhortation to the leader of leaders to share the glory; it is not
an exhortation or a license given to the leaders who follow the leader
of leaders to demand such glory. God would not honor this kind of a spirit.
However, the wise leader of leaders will give credit where credit is due,
honor where honor is due and will exalt in the presence of the followers
those leaders whom he leads.
4) The leader of leaders must learn to share
the spoils with the leaders who follow him.
The first time I ever had a leader under me was
in the early 1950′s. His name was Bob Keyes. Until that time, I had gotten
all the cakes, pies, turnip greens, green beans and other nice things that
people give to and do for the pastor. The first week that Bob Keyes worked
for me, I went by his house. He and his family were eating a meal of freshly
cooked vegetables. I walked in, smelled the meal, coveted the vegetables
and told them it sure smelled good and looked good.
Bob said, “Yes, these are fresh out of the garden.”
That green eyed monster came inside my heart and
I said, “You don’t have a garden! Whose garden?”
He said, “Well, some members of the church brought
these by to us today,” and I said to myself, “They didn’t bring me any!”
I was learning that I must share with my followers the leader whom I was
Evangelist Jim Lyons at one time was my associate
pastor. One cold winter day I was backing out of my driveway (it is a curved
driveway), and I got off of the drive into a snowbank. I tried to get out
and couldn’t. I gunned the engine, went forward a bit, backward a bit,
forward a bit, backward a bit, and then I smelled something! I knew what
I had done. I had burned up the transmission. There I was, sitting in a
snowbank with no transmission, realizing that it would cost me hundreds
of dollars to have it fixed or replaced, when suddenly Jim Lyons and his
wife drove up in front of our house. He shouted, “Preacher, are you having
I replied something like this, “No, Jim. I just
come out here every day and try to find a snowbank where I can put my car
and bum up my transmission!”
Jim said, “Well, why don’t you get some snow tires?”
I said, “I don’t have any money to buy snow tires.
Do you have snow tires?”
He said, “Yes.”
I said, “Where did you get them?”
He said, “The Cliftons gave them to me.”
Oh boy, that green eyed monster came to me again!
I was learning again that in order to have leaders whom I lead, I must
share with them the spoils from the followers.
5) The leader of leaders must oftentimes accept
being misunderstood. His life is a lonely life. The people to
whom he was once close are now led on a personal basis by other leaders
whom he leads. He will be misunderstood. This goes back to what President
Harry Truman said, “If you can’t stand the heat, don’t get in the kitchen.”
A part of the heat of being a leader of leaders is sharing the glory and
the spoils with the leaders whom the leader leads.
6) The leader of leaders must oftentimes give
up closeness that he would like to have. I would like to be
as close to our young people as our youth director is, but I cannot. The
church is too big. I would like to be as close to our senior citizens as
the director of our senior citizens ministry is, but I cannot. The church
is too big. I would like to be as close to those in the hospital as my
associate pastor John Colsten is, but I cannot. The church is too big.
I would like to be as close to the football team at Hammond Baptist High
School as the coach is, but I cannot. The church is too big. I would like
to be as close to the school teachers as the principals are, but I cannot.
The church is too big. I would like to be as close to the bus workers as
the bus directors are, but I cannot. The church is too big. I would like
to be as close to the college students at Hyles-Anderson College as the
teachers are, but I cannot. The church is too big. This is a price to pay,
but it is well worth it in order to reach more people. This means the leader
of leaders must walk with God in a closer way than do his followers and
leaders whom he leads.
When the Israelites came into the promised land,
God divided the land and gave a portion to 11 of the 12 tribes. The tribe
of Levi received no such portion of land. They asked God what their portion
would be. He replied, “I am your portion.” This is true in a church concerning
a pastor who has become a leader of leaders.
7) The leader of leaders must be willing to
be second or third in the minds of some of the people. I have a large
staff. There are many men who work for me. I often tell my congregation
that I do not expect them to put me first on their love list; just put
me somewhere on the list. In the minds of some I will be number one; in
the minds of others I will be number two or number three, number four,
number five. That doesn’t matter, as long as I am on the list. I simply
ask them to love me; not to love me first or love me most. There are some
people in my church who love Brother John Colsten more than they love me.
That’s all right as long as they love me. There are some who love Brother
Roy Moffitt more than they love me. There are some who love Brother Elmer
Fernandez more than they love me. There are some who have more love for
other members of the staff such as Bob Auclair, Eddie Lapina, Keith McKinney,
Bill Schutt, Ray Young, Wendell Evans, Mike Sisson, Greg Weber, Tom Vogel,
etc. I want some people to put each of these men first (though the loyal
man will not seek such love for himself).
Leaders are reading this chapter. Do not seek
to be a leader of leaders in non organizational areas. Some doctors simply
are highly respected and regarded by other doctors and become leaders of
leaders. Some lawyers just happen to rise to a place of similar respectability.
The same is true with preachers, and with leaders in every other field.
However, in an organizational structure such as
a church, the wise pastor will have people who follow him, but who lead
segments of the congregation in various ministries. The work of the church
can be multiplied many times if such a relationship can be one of grace,
love, admiration and acceptance.
4. A follower of followers. Matthew 15:14,
“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead
the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” In every church, and for that
matter, in every organization, there are people who do not follow the designated
leadership. Some of these people perhaps are jealous of strength because
they are almost always weak themselves. These people may be those who wanted
to lead and failed, and so they do not like to follow leadership. These
are people who are critics of leaders. They usually hate strong people,
or at least, they do not like them. They are often one issue people and
have one doctrine that they advocate, one project that they promote, or
one conviction that they advocate above others. These are they who often
have tried to lead and failed, and so they pick away at leadership. No
matter what organization they are in, they do not follow. If they are choir
members, they do not cooperate with the choir director. They do not come
to choir practice, and if they do, they try to aggravate the choir director.
If they are bus captains, they will not cooperate in the bus meetings,
either by causing a problem when they are there or by not attending the
meetings at all (which is a blessing to the director!).
The tragic thing is the fact that there are many
who follow these followers. They preach their sermons from restaurant tables
as they promote their opposition to the chosen leadership. They are followers
of followers. How tragic this is! These followers are often lovely people
who are misled by those whose only ability to lead is to lead someone against
the leader. Their only achievement is to criticize achievers, and their
only success is to lead others in opposition to the successful. These followers
usually are lovely people who are misled by a warm personality of a follower
who wants to lead and can lead only those whom he can get disgruntled.
Let God’s people beware of followers whose only
leadership is that of rebellion, criticism and division.
All over America churches have been split by these
followers who lead followers, and so many of these followers who follow
followers have gone with them to start other churches, and all over America
there are little groups of people who are living in failure because they
have followed a follower instead of a leader. Many young people have lost
confidence in leadership because of these misguided souls. Thank God for
those who are followers, but let all followers be careful to follow those
who are leaders and not those whose only accomplishment is to fight leadership
and to gather around themselves a few followers who became disgruntled
and usually, sad to say, come to naught.
5. Followers of leaders of leaders. This
is that type of Christian who wants to follow the famous name. He will
support financially a leader of leaders, perhaps through some kind of nationwide
ministry, but he is not willing to follow and support his own leader, the
faithful pastor of his own church. He is enchanted by a personality, infected
with hero worship, and will often drive hundreds of miles to hear a famous
name but is seldom interested in supporting the leader nearest him. It
is also true that if this follower of a leader of leaders were to become
acquainted on a day-to-day basis with his hero, he would probably become
disenchanted. He can follow only at a distance and not up close.
One of these such followers of the leader of leaders
came to me when I was preaching in a distant state. He told me that he
certainly was pleased to hear me and that he wished that they had a seasoned
pastor at their church instead of the young man that God had given them.
He was much chagrined because his young pastor made foolish mistakes. He
tried to build himself in my estimation (and failed) by telling me that
he wished he had a pastor like me that would not be susceptible to mistakes
The next night when I stood to speak, I told of
this man’s statement to me (though I did not imply at all or even give
a hint as to the man’s name). I then proceeded to tell the audience of
a mistake that I had made just a few years before, after I had been in
Hammond for about 20 years. Our church is a downtown church. We have purchased
many buildings in the downtown area of Hammond. We bought a department
store building, a drug store, a restaurant, four furniture companies, a
lodge building, four small stores, a cleaners, a barber shop, a beauty
shop and several apartment buildings.
On this particular occasion we had purchased a
three story building behind our auditorium. One night at deacons’ meeting
a motion was made and seconded that we tear down the building and use it
for parking. One deacon included in his motion that we appoint a committee
to have the building torn down. I immediately suggested that it was foolish
to appoint a committee; I could take care of it. All I had to do was simply
call the demolition company and tell them to tear the building down. The
deacons agreed to do so.
I did call the demolition company, but I failed
to give them proper instructions! They did tear the building down that
we had purchased. They also tore down the three-story building next door
that we did not own. Boy, was I ever shocked and surprised to find that
we had torn down a building that we did not own! How would you like to
come to work some morning and find your building gone, especially if you
were the owner of the building! I called a meeting of my deacons for Saturday
night. They did not know what had happened. I immediately started the meeting
by saying, “Fellows, did you ever hear of the Scripture that says, ‘If
a man asks you to go a mile, go with him two’? Well, I had the building
torn down just as you requested, but I also tore the one down next door.”
I told them that I would not blame them if they asked the church to fire
One deacon kiddingly said, “Well, we don’t pay
much; we don’t expect much!”
I kiddingly replied, “One more crack out of you,
and your house comes down tonight!”
A deacon across the room shouted to him in jest,
“Don’t worry, he’ll get the one next door instead!”
One deacon stood and said, “You’ve been my pastor
for all these years, and I love you and am going to follow you regardless.
As far as I’m concerned you can tear down the whole city of Hammond, and
you are still my preacher.”
I then began to think of other buildings that
could come down! How about the adult bookstore? How about the movie houses
and the liberal churches? (Of course, this was all in humor.)
One by one our deacons stood to tell me of their
love and loyalty What could have been serious trouble turned into a little
I told this story to the people where I was preaching
and reminded them that leaders of leaders make foolish mistakes and errors
just like leaders do and that older more seasoned preachers are prone to
What I am saying is this: The member of the church
should follow the pastor, his own pastor. The pastor may not be as glamorous
as some nationally known figure, but he is God’s man for that place, and
he should be followed. Yes, we ought to love the leaders of leaders, but
we also ought to love, appreciate and follow that one that God has given
us to lead us on a local scale.
Are you a follower of leaders? Then be a faithful,
loyal one. Are you a leader of followers? Then be a considerate, compassionate
one. Are you a leader of leaders? Then be an unselfish, sharing one. Are
you a follower of followers? Then turn from following discontents and disgruntles,
and follow God’s chosen leader. Are you a follower of leaders of leaders?
Then add to that your followship of your own leader. May God make us to
be in any capacity what He would have us be.
I refuse to allow the existence of my happiness
to depend upon the actions of others. I will allow the degree of my happiness
to depend on the actions of others. I will not allow myself to be unhappy
or to lose my joy because of the behavior of someone else. I will allow
myself to have joy and happiness only because of conditions within my ability
to determine. If my joy is dependent upon your treatment of me, I can have
joy only when you decide for me to have joy. If my joy is dependent upon
my treatment of you, then I may have that joy any time I choose. If my
joy is dependent upon my relationship with God, then I may have joy when
I choose to do so. If my joy is dependent upon my service for others, then
I may have that joy any time I choose to serve others. So the presence
of my joy must not be dependent upon the actions of others and their behavior
toward me. However, the degree of that joy may be so determined. In other
words, I will not let you make me happy, but I will let you make me happier.
Even in church life the carnal sometimes prevails
over the spiritual, and Christians sin against each other. The purpose
of this chapter is to give instruction to the one who is sinned against.
For years I have had what I call, “My Ten Commandments When Sinned Against.”
These are ten things that I do when I find that someone has sinned against
Before entering the discussion of these ten commandments,
we must make it clear that there is no selfish purpose or motive involved
in these actions and reactions. The one supreme motive is TO RESTORE THE
ONE WHO HAS SINNED AGAINST ME. I must look upon him as I would look upon
any Christian who has committed any other sin. I must be grieved because
it has strained his relationship with God. I must not allow my grief to
exist because I have been wounded or offended. The truth is, if I love
the Word of God and the God of the Word as I should, there is no way that
I can be offended. Psalm 119:165, “Great peace have they which love Thy
law: and nothing shall offend them.”
As we enter into these ten commandments, we will
always keep before us that our purpose is to restore the offender. If you
have sinned against me, I want you to have the joy that has been taken
from you because of your offense. My purpose is to help you and, by God’s
grace, to help you be restored!
I will have forgiveness in readiness before
you sin against me. Ephesians 4:32, “And be ye kind one to another,
tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath
forgiven you.” I will always keep a reservoir of forgiveness so that it
can be used immediately when sinned against. I will not allow myself the
indulgence of the time that often transpires between being sinned against
and offering forgiveness. That forgiveness will always be available and
in abundant readiness immediately when the sin against me has been committed.
I will not impute your sin to you. Ephesians
4:32, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another,
even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” Notice here that I am
to forgive those who offend me just exactly as God forgives those who offend
Him. God not only forgives our sins, but He also justifies us. In other
words, God keeps in readiness “justified forgiveness,” which means that
God does not charge us with the sin. He does not record it against us.
When a Christian is saved, he is justified by the faith which is placed
in Christ. Romans 5:1, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace
with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” If, therefore, I forgive you as
God for Christ’s sake has forgiven me, I must not only forgive you, but
I must not charge you with the offense. In my mind, you never sinned against
me. I call that “justified forgiveness.” Not only do I forgive you for
what you’ve done, but I do not record what you have done. I do not think
of you as one forgiven, but I think of you as one who has not sinned at
I will grieve for you, but not for what you
have done to me. I will not grieve because I have an enemy; I will
grieve because you are an enemy I will not grieve because I have been sinned
against; I will grieve because you have sinned. I want you to have a good
relationship with Christ. I want you to have peace. I want you to have
fullness of joy, and you can have none of these when being offensive, so
my grief is not for the wounded but for the wounder. My grief is not for
the criticized but for the critic. My grief is not for myself, though I
certainly want your love. My grief is for you because I want the best for
you, and you cannot have the best when you have sinned against another.
I will do all that I can to help you remedy
your situation. I will not retaliate. I will not be critical of you.
I will not even share with others what you have done against me. My entire
course of action will be that of seeking your restoration. I want you restored
to fellowship with Christ. I want your joy restored, your peace restored
and your happiness restored, so nothing that I do in the following commandments
will be done to try to hurt you but to help you. I will not want for your
hurt unless God chooses that method to bring you back to Himself. I will
want the best for you and will do all that I can for that best to come
I will ask God to let me suffer for you.
I Corinthians 6:6-8, “But brother goeth to law with brother, and that before
the unbelievers. Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because
ye go to law one with another. Why do ye not rather take wrong? why do
ye not rather suffer yourselves to be defrauded? Nay, ye do wrong, and
defraud, and that your brethren.” Not only will my forgiveness be justified
forgiveness, but it will be vicarious forgiveness. I will ask God to punish
me instead of you if that can best serve to bring about your restoration.
I must not forget that the entire purpose of these commandments is for
you to be restored, and I must do all I can to bring that restoration about.
Isn’t that the way that Jesus cared for our sins? He bore the suffering
for us vicariously Do not forget that I am to forgive as God forgives,
so if God took upon Himself the suffering for our sins, even so I must
take upon myself the suffering for your sins if God will but let me do
so. I have forgiven you. I have offered you with that forgiveness a justified
forgiveness, and now I offer to you a vicarious forgiveness.
Certainly by now I want you to be restored. However,
if you are not yet restored, I must continue to do what I can to help you
find the peace you once had and the joy you once knew in Christ. If at
any time while I am obeying these ten commandments, you are restored, then
the use of the balance of the commandments will not be necessary. However,
if having had forgiveness in readiness for you, having offered you justified
forgiveness, having grieved for you, having decided to do all that I can
to remedy your situation and having offered you a vicarious forgiveness
with a willingness to suffer your penalty, I find that you are not yet
restored, I must proceed to the next commandment.
I will turn you over to God for justice.
Romans 12:17-20, “Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest
in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live
peaceably with all men. Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather
give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,
saith the Lord. Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst,
give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.”
Do not forget that this justice that I seek for you from God is for your
Far too often I have heard this passage explained
in a way to describe the Christian as one who wants his offender to be
hurt and that God is certainly a better executor of this hurt than we can
be. So it is taught that if you really want to hurt somebody, let God do
it, and even blessing those that curse us is supposedly done in an effort
to heap coals of fire upon his head. What a tragic teaching! How sad it
is for us to teach God’s people to be good to somebody because it will
make them feel bad, to love somebody because it will make them hurt. God
teaches no such thing! We must never forget that the purpose for all of
this is for restoration. We are not trying to see to it that someone gets
punished for his sin unless that punishment will help to restore him.
We simply treat him with love. If he hates us,
we love him. If he despises us, we pray for him. If he does ill to us,
we do good to him and turn him over to the Lord for justice, hoping that
that justice will lead him to restoration. We would rather that he not
suffer at all, but if God chooses to use the tool of suffering to bring
him back to joy, peace and restoration, we will be happy for that, but
we will never be happy because he suffers. We are pleased only if that
suffering leads to restoration. All of this must be remedial.
The word “vengeance” here has to do with justice,
and the justice has to do with chastening, and the chastening we hope and
trust will lead to repentance, and repentance will lead to a restoration
of fellowship with God, and a restoration of that fellowship will lead
the offender to regain his joy and peace.
Why should we want to use the same tactics he
used? Why should we borrow Satan’s weapons to punish those who have punished
us? Do not forget! The purpose of these ten commandments is restoration.
If forgiving immediately brings it about, Commandment I is all that is
necessary. If that fails, we will offer justified forgiveness and let our
offender know that we are not charging the sin to him at all. Then we will
attempt restoration by grieving for him and then doing all we can to remedy
his situation, and then by asking God to let us suffer for him, and when
all of those commandments have failed, we then turn him over to the Lord
so God may use justice upon him in order that that justice may lead him
back to his original fellowship and relationship with his God. If our brother
is still not restored, we go to the next commandment.
I will turn you over to the Lord for chastening.
Hebrews 12:10-12, “For they verily for a few days chastened us after their
own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His
holiness. Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous:
nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness
unto them which are exercised thereby. Wherefore lift up the hands which
hang down, and the feeble knees.” In other words, I will ask God to chasten
you, but I must remember through it all that I am not wanting you to be
hurt. I am wanting you to be restored, and if asking God to chasten you
leads to this restoration, I will be pleased to do so. I will not enjoy
your suffering or your pain any more than a loving parent enjoys the suffering
of the child he is spanking, but I will wish for it if it will lead to
your restoration. Of course, the word “chastening” implies training or
educating. God does not punish His children for sin. His measures of inflicting
pain upon us are not vindictive. They are punitive and corrective and done
in love. The loving parent has in mind training his child, improving his
child, educating his child, and in doing this, oftentimes must use the
inflicting of pain. Never forget, the purpose is remedial!
I would much prefer that my forgiveness in itself
would bring you to restoration. I would love for my justifying you as if
you had never sinned against me to accomplish this. I would hope that a
long time before we get to Commandment 7, you have been restored to fellowship
with your God and have received once again the sweet peace and joy that
comes with that fellowship, and only for your restoration to that place
will I want you to be chastened.
As has been implied, God does not punish Christians;
He chastens them. Now it may look the same way and it may, as a fact, be
the same action. God may do exactly the same thing to a saved man that
He does to an unsaved man, but to the unsaved it is punishment; to the
saved man it is chastening. He chastens those whom He loves. To the one
who is not His child, He may inflict punishment for sin, and though He
may use that same act upon the Christian, it will not be punishment; it
will be chastening. It will be done for training, for educating and for
restoring His child to Himself
Certainly we trust that by now the one who has
sinned against us has been restored, but if not, there is another commandment.
I will turn you over to Satan for the destruction
of the flesh. I Corinthians 5:1-5, “It is reported commonly that there
is fornication among you, and such fornication as is not so much as named
among the Gentiles, that one should have his father’s wife. And ye are
puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed
might be taken away from among you. For I verily, as absent in body, but
present in spirit, have judged already, as though I were present, concerning
him that hath so done this deed. In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,
when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord
Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of
the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.”
Notice especially the first part of verse 5, “to deliver such an one unto
Satan for the destruction of the flesh,” but don’t stop there. Notice the
rest of the verse, “that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord
Jesus.” It is folly for us to think that we are to say, “I tried to hurt
him, and God tried to hurt him; now Devil, you hurt him.” This is contrary
to the whole spirit of the Bible. It is contrary to the attitude of God
toward His children. God is not talking here about a judgmental deliverance
of the sinner to the executioner. God is simply saying He will exhaust
every measure in order to restore the offender to Himself.
Another error that is taught concerning this subject
is that this means we are to turn someone over to the Devil and say, “Devil,
kill him!” That is not taught here. Notice that the destruction is of the
flesh, the destruction of the carnality, the destruction of the methods
that caused him to sin. God oftentimes will let the Devil use his weapons
on us, but even then the purpose is for our restoration. I do not come
with a vindictive spirit in a hateful manner and almost with delight saying
to the Devil, “You can have him. Kill him.”
Turn to I Timothy 1:19-20, “Holding faith, and
a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made
shipwreck. Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto
Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.” Now notice especially verse
20 where the Apostle says, “whom I have delivered unto Satan, THAT THEY
MAY LEARN not to blaspheme.” What is the purpose of turning one over to
Satan? THAT HE MAY LEARN. This is the same as the chastening in Commandment
7. Even in this action we are seeking restoration. This one, like all the
commandments above, is for the good of the offender that he might be led
to know once again the peace and joy he knew before he sinned against me.
Even in turning him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, I am
still interested in corrective measures, or as John Calvin said concerning
this truth, “for medicinal purposes.” This is just another medicine that
I will use in an effort for your spirit to be healed.
I will bless you, do good to you, pray for
you and love you. Matthew 5:43, 44, “Ye have heard that it hath been
said, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto
you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that
hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
Romans 12:20, 21, “Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst,
give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” I will not combat
hatred with hatred, but I will combat hatred with love. I will not combat
cursing with cursing, but I will combat cursing with blessing. I will not
combat spite with spite, but I will combat spite with prayer, hoping still
that the weapons of love, blessing, prayer and kindness will lead to your
restoration because I love you. I loved you before you sinned against me.
I love you more now because you need me more. You need my love more, my
blessings more, my prayer more.
I will not socialize with you. I Corinthians
5:9-11, “I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators:
yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous,
or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the
world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man
that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater,
or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not
to eat.” II Thessalonians 3:14, “And if any man obey not our word by this
epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.”
Perhaps you are saying, “Now you are showing some
hatred at last. You finally came to a commandment that is vindicative!”
No, quite to the contrary. Even this commandment is remedial and medicinal
as a last resort. I will not socialize with you, hoping that you will miss
my fellowship. Of course, I am commanded in the Scriptures above not to
socialize with you, but even this is an effort for you to be restored.
I trust that you will miss my fellowship and that my withdrawal from socializing
with you will lead to your restoration.
This does not mean that I will not be nice to
you. I will speak to you, I will help you, I will bless you, I will pray
for you, I will be kind to you, I will be gracious to you, I will feed
you if you are hungry, I will clothe you if you are cold. I will do anything
I can for you, but I will not socialize with you because I am commanded
not to do so and because again I am using a tool that I trust and pray
unto God will restore you to fellowship with God and to your relationship
with Him that brought you peace and joy, and as a blessed by-product, restore
you to myself.
In conclusion, if you are my enemy and if you
have sinned against me, I love you and I want you restored. The commandments
that I have listed above are simply different medicines in the apothecary
that I trust will heal your wounded spirit and bring you back to your God
and to me, your friend. Perhaps these medicines taste progressively worse,
and I certainly trust that before the more drastic ones are needed, you
will be restored. I do not want you to suffer. I do not want you to hurt,
but far above that, I want you restored to your God and to your joy. If
therefore, a little suffering and a little pain will be remedial and medicinal,
I will want it for you, not so you can hurt, but so the joy of fellowship
you once knew can be yours, because you see, my dear enemy, I love you!
In any church, there are several groups of people.
That fact is the very purpose of the writing of this book. There is a group
of the weak, a group of the fallen, a group of the strong, a group of the
critical, etc. Of course, this is true in any group of people or cross
section of society. Each Christian must decide which group he wants to
join and who his choice of friends will be.
1. You must first decide what you want to be.
Do you want to be strong? Do you want to be weak? Do you want to be fallen?
Do you want to be critical? Do you want to be loyal? Do you want to be
disloyal? This decision must precede all others.
2. You must then associate yourself with the
group of people who are like that. You will be like your associations.
You will not regularly associate with the disloyal and continue to be loyal.
Neither will you regularly associate yourself with the loyal and continue
to be disloyal. You will not regularly associate yourself with the strong
and continue to be weak. You will not regularly associate yourself with
the weak and continue to be strong.
You have first decided what you want to be. Then
you have found the group that is composed of people like your goal, and
you have associated yourself with them.
3. Do not try to copy them, and do not try
not to copy them. All of us have heard sermons innumerable, warning
us not to be somebody else, but to be ourselves. Christian colleges especially
are bombarded with such statements, and there is a bit of truth in the
statement, but it does not go far enough. Just as the Christian is not
to TRY to copy his associates, even so he should not NOT TRY to copy his
associates. The mistake is the TRYING. Get with the right crowd. Do not
force becoming like them. Do not attempt to keep your uniqueness; just
be with them. Of course, we are assuming that you have chosen the right
crowd. In other words, do not try to be anyone else, and do not NOT TRY
to be anyone else.
It was my fortune as a young preacher in my late
20′s to begin associating with and preaching with the greatest preachers
of the former generation. As a young man not yet 30 years of age, I began
preaching on the same platform with such men as Dr. John R. Rice, Dr. Bob
Jones, Sr., Dr. R. G. Lee, Dr. Lee Roberson, Dr. Lester Roloff, Dr. Bill
Rice, Dr. Ford Porter and others. I made no attempt to copy these men.
I tried to be myself, but I made no attempt not to copy these men. I simply
was with them, hoping that some of their greatness would rub off on me.
I watched them preach. I watched them walk. I watched them sit on the platform.
I prayed with them. I preached with them. I studied with them. I traveled
with them, and on occasion, I even shared the same motel room with them.
It would have been a tragedy for me to have copied any of them. It would
have been just as tragic for me to have refused to allow them to influence
me. Occasionally one of my members will come to me after a message and
say, “You reminded me today of Dr. John R. Rice.” It is not unusual for
someone to inform me that they saw Dr. Bill Rice in me while I was preaching.
The same can be said of Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., Dr. G. B. Vick, Dr. Roloff
and others. When I was a younger preacher one of my members told me one
time that they could always tell on Wednesday night with whom I had preached
on Monday and Tuesday. I assure you there was no purposeful effort for
me to preach like any one of these men. Neither was there a purposeful
effort for me not to preach like any one of these men. I simply let them
influence me by osmosis, not encouraging or fighting that influence.
The wise Christian will first decide what he wants
to be like. Then he will associate himself with that crowd. If you want
to be a critical person, do it on purpose. Find the critical crowd and
run with them. You will be successful in your goal. If you want to be a
weak Christian, do it on purpose. Find the weak Christians and run with
them. Likewise, if you want to be a strong Christian, do it on purpose.
Find the strong Christians and run with them. Once you have decided what
you want to be and have found the crowd that can influence you to be that,
get with that crowd and relax!
4. Weakness and strength should never be equal.
Corinthians 6:14-17, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers:
for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion
hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or
what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath
the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God:
as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be
their God, and they shall be My people. Wherefore come out from among them,
and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and
I will receive you.” Notice especially the words, “Be ye not unequally
YOKED together with unbelievers.” Now a yoke holds two together. It may
be a team of mules, a team of oxen, but a yoke is made for a pair. God
does not want His people pairing off one-on-one with the weak. One critic
plus one non critic equals two critics. One gossip plus one non-gossip
equals two gossips. One disloyal plus one loyal equals two disloyals. God
does not want us to give the weak Christian the home court advantage. A
strong Christian will not change the crowd that is weak. However, a crowd
of strong Christians can change a weak Christian.
I think there is a real weakness taught in many
of our fundamental circles, and that is what we normally call the “buddy
system.” I do not think the buddy system is a good idea. In other words,
one stronger Christian becomes a buddy with a weaker Christian in order
to strengthen him. Most of the time this will weaken the strong Christian.
The wise plan is to have a group of strong Christians with the weak Christian.
Have the weak Christian join five strong Christians so that strength can
be in the majority.
5. Do not choose a crowd or a person that is
not what you would like to become and then decide what good you can learn
from them. The truth is that we do not know what we learn. We do not
choose what we learn. There are so many things we learn that we do not
know we are learning.
I am thinking of a dear friend of mine who has
pastored for many years. He decided to go to different pastors’ schools,
conferences, conventions, etc. of all persuasions to choose the best of
each. He chose one such meeting conducted by a very well known pastor who
would not be considered by fundamentalists to be fundamental. He went to
this meeting to choose the good and refuse the bad. Since this is impossible,
he was influenced by the charisma of the pastor and began to embrace and
endorse things that were contrary to his former ministry. He gave the other
side home court advantage, and in so doing, accepted practices that previously
he never would have accepted!
Now let us suppose that same brother had come
to the Pastors’ School at First Baptist Church of Hammond where the fundamental
position has home court advantage. If the same statements contrary to his
former position had been made by someone in conversation, he would have
refuted them, at least in his own mind, and certainly would not have embraced
or endorsed them. However, he allowed himself to be outnumbered by weakness
and in so doing, accepted things he never would have accepted otherwise.
Do not let strength go to the weak group to try to help, but form a strong
group to invite the weak one that he may be helped. DO NOT GIVE WEAKNESS
THE HOME COURT ADVANTAGE.
6. Remember, it is the personality that changes
you. The same thing can be done by television. When one watches a television
program, he is giving the program home court advantage. The television
personality is not brought into your living room; you are brought into
his setting. In your mind, you are sitting with him at his place. You are
in his crowd. This is why television can be so deadly! For example, when
you watch a talk show whose guests hold an opinion contrary to yours, you
are allowing yourself to come under the influence of their charisma in
their setting with their having the home court advantage. If that same
person came to your home with the same philosophy, you would not allow
it! This is because when he comes to your home, you then have the home
court advantage, and you refuse to be influenced in such a manner. This
is the power of television. The world decides the crowd with whom you will
run, and likewise decides the conditions and environment surrounding you
and those who want to influence you.
The wise Christian will decide what he wants to
be and will avoid watching personalities on television who are not what
he wants to be.
The same is true with radio. If you want to be
a separated, fundamentalist Christian, then listen only to separated, fundamentalist
preachers. If you want to become a charismatic, then listen to charismatic
preachers. If you want to become a liberal, then listen to liberal preachers,
for sooner or later you will become that which influences you. You will
not have the radio on to compromisers all day long and still become a strong,
The same is true concerning books. Many Christians
become rabid followers of authors they have never met, of preachers whose
churches they have never visited, and of men and women about whom they
know nothing. They allow themselves to be unequally yoked with a personality
that will influence them but about which they know little or nothing!
Let’s go back to the original purpose of this
chapter. First, we decide what we want to be. Then we find the influence
that is like that and we position ourselves in its presence, in order that
we may be influenced accordingly.
Years ago a young man heard me preach on several
occasions. He decided he wanted to be the kind of preacher that Brother
Hyles is, so he moved to Hammond. (At the time he was single.) When he
got to our area, he then enrolled in a college whose philosophies basically
are contrary to ours. The time spent in that college each week was far
greater than the time spent under my influence, but he felt he could go
to that college, choose what was good and leave the bad. He did not realize
that no one can do this! There is no way that a person can disassociate
himself from being influenced by his environment. This was the case. Years
have passed. He is now a pastor with no desire at all to be like Brother
The issue here is not that he should want to be
or not want to be like Brother Hyles. The issue is that he wanted to be
one thing and chose an environment that influenced him to be another.
7. Have a degree of closeness to all church
members. This does not mean that you should be socially involved with
all church members. It does mean, however, that within a church each member
should have a positive feeling toward every other member. Instead of having
a positive and a negative, have degrees of positive.
For example, I am an independent, fundamental
Baptist. I certainly feel kindly toward all of that group. However, within
that group there are different degrees of acceptance. There are some preachers
within that group that I would have preach for me, I would preach for them,
and I would preach with them. There are others within that group for whom
I would preach and with whom I would preach, but I would not have preach
for me. There are others in that group with whom I would preach, but I
would not have them preach for me, nor would I preach for them. There are
still others in that group whom I would not have preach for me, for whom
I would not preach and with whom I would not preach, but I would certainly
be willing to sit down and have a cup of tea and some warm fellowship with
them. I do not feel negatively toward any of them, but there are degrees
of my positive feeling.
Concerning fundamental colleges, there are numbers
of colleges in America that I would consider fundamental. I am for them
all, but I am more for some than for others. It may be that I would recommend
a student to attend my first choice. If that student felt negative about
that recommendation, I would then recommend my second choice, then my third,
etc. This does not mean that my first choice is always the same. It may
be that for one young person I would have a different first choice than
Then there are other young people who I feel would
not consider going to my first choice for them. I would be pleased and
somewhat surprised to have them even choose my last choice among the colleges
that are acceptable to me.
This is the way it should be in a church. The
Bible says we are to love one another, to prefer one another, to forgive
one another, to be kind to one another, and to be forbearing with one another.
8. Then choose from the church a circle of
companions and fellowship. This circle should be composed of those
who are already what you want yourself to become. While the Christian is
supposed to love all fellow Christians and fellow church members, there
are those in that group whom he should not choose as his closest associates
and the crowd with whom he is going to run. A good rule of thumb is that
you be in the minority when wanting to be helped and that you be in the
majority when wanting to help. If there is a weak Christian whom you want
to help, by all means be sure that you have other strong Christians that
form the majority. You should be in the minority only when you yourself
are trying to become strong, and therefore associate yourself with such
So we have chosen a large circle, composed of
all the church members about whom we are to feel positive. Then we have
chosen a smaller circle with whom we are to be companions.
9. Then choose an even smaller circle to whom
you will be good friends. Here are several observations about this
small circle to whom you give your friendship:
1) God must lead you in the choosing of those
to whom you will be a friend. This is a knitting done by God as was
the case of Jonathan toward David. I Samuel 18: 1, “And it came to pass,
when he had made an end of speaking unto Saul, that the soul of Jonathan
was knit with the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”
God must lead you in becoming such a friend.
We are using the word “friend” here in the sense
it is meant to be used. Occasionally someone will say, “She is a true friend.”
There is no other kind of friend. The word “friend” in the Bible is a very
important and serious word. It is a relationship that is akin to brother,
father, mother, sister, son, daughter. Proverbs 18:24, “A man that hath
friends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend that sticketh
closer than a brother.” Proverbs 27: 10, “Thine own friend, and thy father’s
friend, forsake not; neither go into thy brother’s house in the day of
thy calamity: for better is a neighbour that is near than a brother far
off.” Proverbs 17:17, “A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born
2) This friendship is for life. You cannot
lose a friend. There is no such statement that can be truthfully uttered
as, “He was my friend,” “I was his friend,” “We used to be good friends.”
The wise man said that a friend loveth at all times.
3) This friendship need not be returned.
Now to be sure, anyone who chooses to be the friend of another would prefer
that that person also become his friend, but if it is Bible friendship,
it need not be returned, and nothing can stop or quench it. It is best
for the Christian to become the friend of another without expecting that
friendship to be reciprocated or returned. Then there is no hurt that can
come. The wise Christian will not allow the presence of happiness to be
determined by others. He will, however, allow the degree of that happiness
to be determined by others. This friendship is for life. If it is not returned,
it is still alive. If its object becomes your enemy, you are still his
Perhaps the true test of real friendship is, “Does
it have to be returned?”
Many years ago God knitted my soul to that of
Dr. John R. Rice. I became his friend. Now I never gave much thought as
to whether he was my friend. I enjoyed every kindness that he ever sent
my way and every gracious thing that he ever did for me, but that was not
necessary. I was his friend. If he was my friend, wonderful. If not, my
friendship would not be affected.
4) You can be close to the one to whom you
are a friend by unilateral action; by that I mean, you may choose to be
close to anyone to whom you want to be close. The other person need
not move toward you. (Of course, I am talking about heart closeness which,
of course, is the best.) If I choose to get close to an object, there is
nothing that object can do about it, and if I want in my heart to feel
close to someone, I can do so. They need not even know about it. I can
pray for them regularly, take time to love them in my heart, think of their
burdens, and be compassionate toward them, and all of this will need no
Recently I was in a distant state. When I finished
preaching on Monday night, a pastor came and waited in line for about 30
minutes to talk to me. When his turn came, he sincerely and warmly looked
me in the eye and told me that he loved me and that I had no idea how much.
Now I did not even know the brother, but it was obvious that he loved me
and that he felt close to me, and though to my knowledge I had never seen
him, I somehow felt that he was my friend. So, no doubt there are some
to whom I feet close who do not feel close to me. There are some who feel
close to me whom I do not even know. Both do not have to move.
Often someone will say, “I just can’t get close
to him.” Oh, yes, you can! What you are saying is that you can’t get him
to feet close to you, but you can come as close to him as you want. He
cannot do a thing to prevent your love or your friendship.
5) Retain a bit of formality even with your
closest friends. I have known personally and often intimately the greatest
Christians of the last 100 years. I have noticed something very interesting.
All of the great men retain a little mystique and a touch of formality
even with their closest friends. For example, Dr. John R. Rice and Dr.
Bob Jones, Sr. were very close friends, and I knew them both well. In spite
of their close friendship, there was a bit of dignity in their manner toward
each other. I have preached with them so many times I can almost hear their
conversation, as follows:
“Hello, Dr. Bob. Nice to see you again.”
“Hello, Dr. John. How’s Mrs. Rice and the family?”
“They are well, thank you, and how’s Mrs. Jones,
and how’s the work at the university doing?”
“We are having a good year, Dr. Rice. Is the Sword
of the Lord doing well?”
Of course, they had their time of levity and warm
expressions, but it was always seasoned with a refreshing touch of dignity
I believe that this should exist even among family
members. The word might be mystique. Any relationship, no matter how close,
certainly should include propriety, manners, grace and kindness and gentleness.
This certainly should be manifest concerning one’s
person. The father who allows his children to see him around the house
in his underclothing will not develop a proper relationship with his children.
Even husbands and wives should take care to behave in the same manner.
Our children, for example, have never seen their dad’s bare feet. They
have never seen me in my pajamas or underclothing. I feel very close to
my children, and when they were at home we were all good buddies and very
expressive of our love and closeness, but Dad was always Dad, and he always
dressed like Dad. I always came to the table fully clothed. Bear in mind
that I was more than their father; I was also their pastor, their school
superintendent, and later on, their college chancellor.
Friendship is a wonderful relationship, but it
should not be taken for granted, and certainly a friend should be treated
with the same courtesy and grace that is offered to a casual acquaintance
and even to a stranger.
So we have accepted all the members of the church
family with a positive outlook, loving them all. This is the great wide
circle. From that wide circle we have chosen a group that is a smaller
circle with whom we fellowship, and from that smaller circle there is yet
a much smaller circle of those to whom God has led us to be friends. I
have often said, “Happy is a person who has a friend. Happier is the person
who is a friend. Happiest is the person who has a friend and is a friend.”
What a relationship! Put it right up there beside the closest relationships
of life, that relationship of friendship!
Hebrews 10:29, “Of how much sorer punishment,
suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the
Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was
sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?”
Acts 7:51, “Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in
heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did,
so do ye.
I Thessalonians 5:19, “Quench not the Spirit.”‘
Ephesians 4:30, “And grieve not the holy Spirit
of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
The reader will be near the end of the chapter
before fully realizing its purpose and its right to be in this book.
There are several sins against the Holy Spirit
mentioned in the Bible. Four of these sins can be committed by the child
1. Insulting the Holy Spirit. Hebrews 10:29,
“Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy,,
who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood
of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath
done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” “Insulting the Holy Spirit” simply
means “to leave Him alone.” This is the Christian who will not do what
He says. To understand this Christian, you have to understand the book
of Hebrews. The book of Hebrews was written to Hebrew Christians. God is
admonishing them not to neglect their salvation, but to continue growing
in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus. He likens the land of Egypt
to the condition of the natural man. I Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural
man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness
unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”
God compares the wilderness to the carnal Christian and the promised land
to the Spirit filled Christian. God is telling the person who has been
saved, that he is out of Egypt and on his way to the promised land, going
through the wilderness; he is to continue on into the promised land and
live the Spirit filled life. The Israelites are used as an example. They
left the land of Egypt because of God’s deliverance through the passover
lamb. They went into the wilderness and across the wilderness as God led
them. They came to the door of the promised land at Kadesh-barnea. They
sent twelve spies to check out the promised land. They came back with glowing
reports of its beauty and of its fruitfulness but told the people that
they could not go in. The people decided not to go in, and because they
made this decision, God sent them back into the wilderness and told them
that not one adult would see or enter into the promised land, except Caleb
and Joshua, who were the two spies who voted to go into the land. The people
paid no attention to God’s command. They had not listened to God’s order,
and in so doing, they committed the awful sin of insulting the Holy Spirit!
2. Resisting the Holy Spirit. Acts 7:51,
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist
the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” “Resisting” is the sin
of listening to the Holy Spirit but disobeying Him. They did not insult
Him, for they did give Him a hearing, but having heard, they refused to
obey. However, this sin is committed before the previous one. Nobody insults
the Holy Spirit by refusing to listen to Him until they have listened to
Him and disobeyed. Ananias and Sapphira listened to Him and disobeyed.
This is not as great a sin as insulting Him. It is on the road to insulting
Him, and they never would have insulted Him had they not resisted Him.
In other words, if they had not refused to do what He said to do, they
would never have gone on to refuse to listen. The order is: First, resist
by listening and not doing, and then later, why listen? They didn’t obey
3. Quenching the Holy Spirit. I Thessalonians
5:19, “Quench not the Spirit.” This is the sin of listening, considering
what He says, and obeying some of what He says and disobeying the rest.
In other words, quenching is the screening of what the Holy Spirit says.
The Christian hears the Holy Spirit and reads the Book the Holy Spirit
authored. He gives serious consideration to obedience. In some areas he
obeys; in some areas he disobeys. This is a terrible sin, but not as bad
as resisting. Resisting is a terrible sin, but not as bad as insulting.
It is better to listen to the Holy Spirit, consider what He says and do
some of it than it is to listen to Him and reject. It is better to listen
and reject than it is to refuse to listen. It is interesting to note this
order: First, quenching-listening and screening, obeying some and disobeying
some; second, resisting-listening and refusing; third, insulting-refusing
The quenching of the Holy Spirit is the condition
of most Christians. We read the Bible, decide what sounds reasonable to
us and obey that which is reasonable. We hear the preacher preach and screen
what he says, decide what sounds logical to us and decide on that basis
what to obey. The average Christian sits in the pew and quenches or screens
the Holy Spirit. The average Christian reads the Bible and does likewise.
4. Grieving the Holy Spirit. Ephesians
4:30, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto
the day of redemption.” Now notice what grieves Him. Very carefully read
the verses adjacent to Ephesians 4:30. It grieves the Holy Spirit when
His children do not get along with each other. It grieves Him when we fuss,
when we fight. It grieves Him when we criticize each other. It grieves
Him when His children are improperly related one to the other.
These sins are a downhill slide. First the Christian
grieves the Holy Spirit, then he quenches the Holy Spirit, then he resists
the Holy Spirit, then he insults the Holy Spirit. If he can have the victory
over resisting the Holy Spirit, he will not insult Him. If he can have
the victory over quenching, he will not resist or insult Him. If he can
have the victory over grieving the Holy Spirit, he will not quench Him
or resist Him or insult Him. In other words, the first step down is grieving
the Holy Spirit. After we grieve Him by being improperly related to God’s
people, we then begin to quench Him, by listening to Him but not accepting
all He commands us to do. Once that is done, we continue downhill to resisting
Him, which means that we listen to what He says but refuse to do it. Once
that is done, we continue our downhill trek to come to the depth of the
Christian sin against the Holy Spirit, that of insulting Him, or not listening
This shows the importance of our proper treatment
of God’s people. This is why we ought to relate ourselves properly to the
fallen, the weak, the strong, the brokenhearted and others in God’s family.
If somehow we could win the victory over grieving the Holy Spirit, we could
certainly win the victory over quenching Him, resisting Him and insulting
This means that the one who does the grieving
is the loser. He grieves the Holy Spirit and because he does, he qualifies
himself to quench the Holy Spirit, resist the Holy Spirit and insult the
Holy Spirit, and soon the Christian life is wasted and rather useless.
The one whom he hates is not the loser; the hater is the loser. The one
who is the object of bitterness is not the loser; the bitter one is the
loser. I have often said I would rather be the hated than the hater, the
object of gossip rather than the gossiper, the rebuked rather than the
Oh, people of God, let us not grieve the Holy
Spirit by improper relationships with each other and bad attitudes toward
The same is true in all of life’s relationships.
Ask any pastor. He looks out in the congregation and sees one of his members
with “that look” on his face. Any pastor knows what I am talking about.
It is that look of discontent, a look of uncooperativeness. Some thing
is wrong between that person and the pastor or the church or something
about the church program.
It isn’t long until he begins to screen what is
said from the pulpit. The pastor he once trusted, he no longer trusts.
He begins to quench what is said from the pulpit. He screens what is preached.
He no longer gives himself to the pastor. His loyalty is waning.
Then comes the next step. He has grieved, he has
quenched, and now he resists. He listens to what the pastor says with no
intention at all of responding. He now has a look of resistance on his
face. Every pastor has seen it over and over again. The person listens
with rebellion and resistance.
Then comes the last stage. He insults the pastor
by not even listening. He pays him no mind at all. It is as if the pastor
does not exist. The tragedy is that the member is the loser. Of course,
the godly pastor is grieved and disappointed, but if he has the right attitude
and the right love in his heart toward the member, he will not be damaged,
except by disappointment.
Usually after the cycle is run, the disenchanted,
then disgruntled, then rebellious church member goes somewhere else. He
soon finds that the new pastor and the new church are not perfect either.
He finds the same conditions there that embittered him before, and after
a few months or years, the imperfections of the new pastor and church are
discovered. Then comes the same disenchantment, followed by the quenching
or the screening, followed by the listening but resisting, then followed
by the insulting or not listening at all.
Not long ago I was talking to a pastor in the
area. I asked him how a certain family was doing that at one time had been
members of First Baptist Church of Hammond. They had gone through the aforementioned
cycle and had left our church. When I asked the pastor how they were doing,
he said, “Oh, they left our church a long time ago.” Then he asked me about
a couple who had come to our church from his after having gone through
the cycle at his church. I replied that that couple had already come and
gone at First Baptist Church and that they had left us also. This is not
saying that every one who leaves a church goes through that cycle, but
every man of God who has ever pastored a church knows what I am talking
about. The people would not have refused to listen had they not first listened
and resisted. They would not have listened and resisted had they not first
quenched or screened the messages. They would not have quenched had they
not become disenchanted with the pastor and/or church members.
The same thing is true with friends. A person
becomes enchanted with another person and what is called a friendship is
started. It is usually a fast and strong relationship, but soon the imperfections
of the friend begin to show. Perhaps the parties got too close to each
other. At any rate, there was some disappointment, followed by disenchantment,
followed by quenching, followed by resisting, followed by an ignoring and
the so-called friendship has been severed. Then there comes along another
attractive personality, and the same cycle is followed again and again
The secret is, do not be grieved. Don’t take the
first step down. The entire purpose of this chapter is to lead us to realize
the destination of a trip that is started by improper relationships with
our brothers and sisters in Christ. Don’t get on the highway. Don’t start
the slide down. Keep your heart right with God’s people. Not doing so is
the initial sin a Christian can commit against the Holy Spirit. Once that
sin is committed, the quenching follows. Once the quenching, then comes
the resisting, followed by the insulting. The result is a hard, cold Christian
who has arrived at a destination of which he had never thought and for
which he had never planned. And to think, it all started because of improper
treatment of fellow Christians.
Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the Lord
shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles, they
shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”
One of the most important qualities dealing with
human relationships is the quality of waiting. There are times in our relationships
when it is best to do nothing and wait. The wise Christian will discover
1. Act swiftly, but do not decide swiftly.
There is certainly nothing wrong with swift action, but let it not be hasty
action. In other words, let us wait until the decision is clear, until
the solution is obvious. Once this has come, let swift action follow.
2. It is usually wise for the pastor to wait
before giving marital counseling. Most wounds heal themselves if left
alone. If picked at, they can become infected. Most problems solve themselves,
and many small problems become big problems because they are attacked too
soon and picked at too often. I found, for example, that when a husband
and wife contact me for marital counseling, it is best to wait two or three
days before actually having the counseling session. Most of the problems
will solve themselves or be solved by the couple within two or three days.
A little wait is often wise.
3. It is wise to wait before hiring employees.
pastors and churches hire too quickly We become enchanted with someone
who has talent and ability and hire him before making a thorough investigation.
A five-and-ten-cent-store clerk is usually investigated more carefully
than is an assistant pastor, and sad to say, sometimes even more carefully
than the pastor! No pastor in the world has a finer staff than do I, and
no pastor in the world has had through the years finer people to work with
him than has this preacher. I have never had a serious problem with a staff
member, and certainly some of the finest men and women in the world are
those who have worked for me and with me through these 40 years of pastoring.
I am convinced that one reason for this record is that I wait carefully
and watch carefully before hiring a staff member. This is especially true
concerning assistant pastors and full-time male staff members. In some
cases I have watched a man for three years or more before hiring him. In
many cases, I have considered employing a man when at first I felt that
he was the answer, and had a tremendous urge and desire to hire him immediately;
however, I have always waited and have always been glad. In some cases,
the time of waiting proved the man’s integrity, value and loyalty In other
cases, waiting proved that the man was not what I believe God wanted. The
same pastor who advises his young people to wait until they know someone
before marriage will quickly hire a staff member in an hour or two with
whom he wants to have a lifetime ministry!
4. Wait before making a significant purchase.
Much of the financial problem in America has been caused by impulsive buying!
We see it; we want it; we buy it! It is amazing how quickly we become disenchanted
with most of our purchases. Such purchases as houses, cars, furnishings,
appliances, and even clothing should not be made hastily.
Just yesterday I received a letter from a young
lady who has grown up in our church. She is one of my favorites, and she
is married to a fine young man who is a graduate of Hyles-Anderson College.
In the note that she wrote me just yesterday, she told me about a piece
of furniture that they had seen for which they had fallen, and which they
were going to buy. Its price was $1200. They agreed to purchase it, but
just before the purchase, the young man said to his wife, “You know, we
have always taken Brother Hyles’ advice, and Brother Hyles has advised
us to wait before making large purchases in order to be sure that we are
doing the right thing.” What he was saying was the Brother Hyles has warned
his people against compulsive buying! They agreed to wait, and during the
waiting period, they found that neither of them thought it was wise to
purchase the $1200 piece of furniture. Soon there came a letter of thanks
to me in appreciation for this very truth that I have taught through these
years in First Baptist Church.
5. Wait before dismissing an employee.
Many churches have been seriously damaged because of a hasty dismissal
of a staff member. In 40 years of pastoring, I have never “fired” a staff
member. There have been times when I was tempted to do so, but I always
waited and an answer always came. Sometimes the answer was to transfer
the person to another area of the ministry Sometimes the answer was to
wait patiently, and on occasion the answer came when I felt that perhaps
I myself was the problem and not the employee.
When someone is employed to work with me, the
decision is a twofold one. It is a decision that I make and a decision
that he makes. Now if later I find that it was a mistake, is it fair for
only one of us to suffer when both of us sinned? I think not. Since the
decision for his coming to work with me was mine as well as his, and in
most cases it was a decision that I made first, for I had approached him
about coming to work with me, I have found it difficult in light of this
fact to dismiss an employee quickly Shall he suffer, his wife suffer, his
children suffer because he and I shared in a mistake that was first my
Suppose with me for a moment that I dismiss an
assistant pastor or another male staff member. Notice all the losses that
are incurred. He loses his job, he loses his church, he loses his pastor,
he loses his friends, he loses his house, he loses his office, he loses
his work. His wife loses her house, her kitchen, her Sunday school class,
her friends, her church and her pastor. His children lose their school,
their house, their room, their friends, their Sunday school class, their
Sunday school teacher, their pastor and many other things. What do I lose’?
I lose nothing, and if I want him to leave, I actually gain. So because
of an action that I initiated and in which I shared equally, I gain and
everybody else loses. Most of these unfortunate occurrences can be prevented
by the simple act of waiting before hiring and, yes, waiting before firing!
6. Wait before spanking a child. Most of
our disciplining of children is simply the parent throwing a temper tantrum
because the child threw a temper tantrum. Add to this the fact that no
person should ever spank a child in the heat of passion and anger, and
you will be led to wait before spanking a child. As our children were growing
up, I always spanked them in the privacy of their rooms. I did not spank
them in the presence of other family members or guests in our home. When
the crime was committed, I simply told the child to go to her room. She
would go there and wait for me, and I would wait before inflicting the
punishment. I wanted to be sure that I was doing the right thing, and I
wanted to be sure that I was not punishing under the emotion of anger or
temper. After I was convinced that the thing to do was to spank the child,
and after I had calmed down sufficiently to do it in love, I went to the
room where the child was waiting, I sat down beside her on the bed, told
her that I loved her and asked her if she knew what she did that was wrong.
She explained to me what infraction she had committed, and then I explained
to her that God had told me in the Bible I was supposed to spank her. I
explained that I did not want to, but that I had to, and that it was not
because I was angry but because I wanted her to grow up to be the right
kind of person. I then asked her to bend over my knee, and I spanked her.
Following the spanking, I prayed for God to bless her, and I thanked Him
for her. Then I assured her of my love and suggested that she stay in the
room for awhile to think about what she had done. I left the room and usually
returned in about five minutes. I hugged her, kissed her and told her she
could leave her room.
I did not tell her when she was sent to her room
that I was going to spank her. I simply said, “Go to your room.” If I told
her I was going to spank her and then felt later that I was making a mistake,
I would have broken my word, so I simply sent her to her room to wait.
This waiting time was for Daddy more than for daughter-a time for me to
decide what course of action to take and a time for me to prepare to take
that course of action in the right spirit and with the right attitude.
7. Wait before accepting a resignation.
Through 40 years of pastoring I have found wisdom in asking people to wait
before finalizing the decision to resign. This applies to any office of
the church, whether paid or volunteer. Many people resign under the emotion
of anger, discouragement, weariness or any one of many other emotions.
I almost always ask the person to do me a favor and wait for 30 days before
finalizing his decision to resign. Perhaps the anger will have subsided,
the body will be stronger, the illness will be cured or the discouragement
will be passed within the 30-day waiting period. I do not beg them to stay
unless I feel very, very strongly that they are leaving the will of God,
but I do ask them to wait for 30 days. At least half of the time their
minds have changed, which means that they would have been disappointed
had they been allowed to resign immediately
8. Wait before giving a resignation. The
wise person will not submit a resignation immediately upon feeling that
he should do so. He should give himself at least 30 days before resigning.
I do not mean that he should resign and give a 30-day notice. I mean that
he should give himself a 30day notice before resigning, and no one but
he himself should be aware of the decision that he is considering. Many
employers are so wounded when they find that an employee is considering
leaving that the wound of disappointment is never healed, even though the
I have a dear friend who many years ago was pastoring
a church. He was being blessed of God in a wonderful way and had one of
the fastest growing churches in our area. One Sunday morning the song leader
was late, the pianist hadn’t arrived, and it seemed like everything that
could go wrong did go wrong! He got up in the pulpit, he was discouraged
and a bit angry, and simply announced that next Sunday would be his last
Sunday! Next Sunday was his last Sunday, but he has never had the ministry
anywhere else that he had there. He left something at that church, and
I am convinced that he believes he made the mistake of his lifetime. No
one should ever resign under emotion.
I have a sermon that I have preached a time or
two entitled, “Don’t Make a Decision When Your Decision-Maker Is Broken.”
Most of life’s biggest decisions are made without a sound decisionmaker.
A decision affecting one’s life should never be made when discouraged,
sick, defeated, lonely, sad, angry, etc. Wait until the decision-maker
is fixed before making the decision, and if the decision must be made before
the decision-maker is repaired, take the decision to someone who has a
good sound decisionmaker and have that person make the decision for you.
9. Wait before mailing a letter of rebuttal.
All of us have become angered because of an unkind letter and have responded
with an unkind answer. We have failed to remember that a soft answer turneth
away wrath. We have answered hastily and angrily only to wish later that
we could retrieve the letter, but it is too late. The letter is gone. Through
these years I have written many such letters myself, but it has been my
policy to write them immediately but wait at least seven days before mailing
them. Most of them are never mailed, and my desire to have that letter
back can be granted. Of course, if one could wait seven days to write the
letter, he would be even wiser, but most of us want to write it now! If
this is the case, give it to someone whom you trust, seal it so they cannot
read it, and ask them to hold it for you for seven days. After seven days,
go get it and then decide, without emotion of any kind, whether it is wise
to mail it. Upon rare occasions, after seven days have passed, I go ahead
and mail the letter. On other occasions, I tear it up and then sometimes
I dispose of it and write another that is kind and conciliatory.
10. Wait before making a verbal rebuttal.
The old saying of, “Count to ten before answering,” is still a wise one.
A word cannot be retrieved. You can write a letter and hold it before mailing;
you cannot do that with a word. It is forever gone, has forever done its
damage, and can never be retrieved! Because of this, every Christian should
develop the habit of waiting before answering if it is a rebuttal that
he is making. Oh, the words that we have said that we would love to retrieve,
but that is impossible. All of the “I’m sorry’s” and “Forgive me’s” cannot
retract a word said in haste.
Someone asked me at a question-answer session
recently what changes I would make if I had my life to live over. I immediately
replied that I would like to have an opportunity to relive times when I
had said some things I shouldn’t have said. The wise Christian will oftentimes
say such things as, “Give me a chance to think about that for awhile,”
or “Let me chew on that for a little while.” May God teach us to wait!
11. Wait before disagreeing with your mate.
If there is a disagreement, there is no law that requires you to make it
known. It is not always completely necessary that you express your opinion.
The wise husband, for example, will not make a rebuttal in disagreement
with his wife, and 90% of the time would be wise not to even express his
opinion if it is contrary to hers. She should be allowed to have opinions,
activities and friends of her own. Thousands of hours of grief could be
avoided if family members just realized that most of the times they needlessly
express opinions and that they need not conform miscellaneous opinions
with each other. If we could just learn not to speak but to wait!
12. Wait before fighting. This is true
in the church, the home or the business. Most battles could be avoided
if they were preceded by a waiting period. Thousands of churches have been
divided because of hasty battles. Thousands of relationships have been
damaged because of quick confrontations. Elsewhere in this manuscript it
has been mentioned that a wonderful little slogan would be, “No attack;
no defense.” Perhaps we could add to that, “In case of disagreement, no
expression of opinion.” Much heartache has come to many people because
at times of idle talk there is disagreement on some little insignificant
issue. Wait. Be quiet. Make no rebuttal. If there is something that you
should say, you will still be able to say it later. The words that you
use so quickly will still be understandable after you have waited awhile.
13. Wait be re borrowing money or before building.
This applies to a business, to a home, and especially to a church. That
new shiny building that you covet may be your biggest enemy, especially
if you are meeting in it and wondering how you are going to pay for it.
Most churches spend their happiest years in small inadequate facilities.
The journey is more fun than the destination, and once the church has arrived,
it often loses something for which it would gladly trade its new building.
Now the pastor may come to the people and ask them to follow him, and they
may be willing to do so, but a long time before he comes to the people,
he should have prayed, meditated, planned, thought, and yes, waited.
14. Wait before making a decision. Especially
is this true concerning a decision of any magnitude. Take your time. Let
the decision-making process cover most of your emotions in life. A hasty
decision is usually a wrong decision; and if the hasty decision is the
right decision, the door will still be open to make that decision after
you have waited awhile.
For seven months I wrestled with the possibility
of coming to Hammond. I can recall going into the children’s bedrooms while
they were asleep, getting on my knees and begging God not to let me make
a mistake. I reminded God that the selection of their mates would depend
on the decision that I was facing. Their schools, their friends and probably
their life’s work was in the balance. I felt that I simply could not make
a hasty decision, so for seven months I wrestled, prayed, thought, cried,
meditated and agonized!
When the decision was made, I did not change my
mind. The truth is that there were times between the time I resigned the
Miller Road Baptist Church in Garland, Texas, and the time that I left
that I felt I had made a mistake, but I had made my decision over a period
of seven months. I could not undo in doubt what I had done in faith, and
I could not undo hastily what I had done carefully. Just as I had not made
the decision to leave hastily, I should not hastily make the decision to
change my mind. Again I say, wait!
15. Wait before allowing your mind to condemn
people who have left your fellowship. It is easy to criticize hastily
the people who leave your church. To be quite frank with you, I have never
understood how people could share with a church and pastor years of blessing,
sorrows, joys, victories, defeats, tears and laughter and then leave! It
is totally beyond my comprehension! But it DOES happen, and when it does,
the Christian spirit is to still love the people who have disappointed
you. Look upon them as being alumni that are welcome to come back home
to visit. Do not allow yourself to become bitter or wounded. Look upon
them as you would look upon a son or daughter who has left home to go to
college or into military service or to marry. Love them as you always loved
them. If they do not love you, that doesn’t keep you from being able to
I have heard some preachers talk about the “back
door revival” that they had. They often say it was the best thing that
ever happened to the church. Well, if it was the best thing, it certainly
was not the best thing for you to say it was the best thing! I have heard
preachers say concerning members who left their church, “Good riddance;
bad rubbish.” I have never believed that, nor do I believe it now, and
I pray God never to let me succomb to the temptation of having anything
but love for people with whom I have served and whom I have loved through
the years. Again, you will be glad if you simply wait before passing judgment.
16. Wait before giving your opinion, even when
asked. Of course, as we mentioned elsewhere, it is usually wise not
to give an opinion unless asked, but even when asked, it is usually wise
to wait before giving an opinion. Often I say when asked for advice, “Let
me think on that awhile,” “Let me pray about that for awhile,” “Let me
meditate about that for awhile,” or “Give me a few days to think about
it.” As a pastor, I am often asked to advise people concerning decisions
that affect many lives and entire lives. I constantly feel the weight of
responsibility on my shoulders and constantly plead with God for wisdom
to give the advice that Jesus would give. There are many times when I feel
before such advice is given there must be a time of waiting.
17. In a church, wait before starting a new
ministry. Now this wait is somewhat different from the others. For
example, a pastor and church can become enchanted with a particular ministry
such as starting a class for Spanish-speaking people. This can be so exciting
to them as they look forward to it that they can too hastily choose the
leader. I found it wise to let the right leader determine the ministry
that is started. I wait before I start a ministry until God sends the right
leader who has a burden for that ministry.
I was Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Hammond
for 11 years before I started a school. For some time I felt I should start
such a ministry, but I felt that I should wait until the time was right.
Some pastors make unwise decisions to start bus
ministries too soon. Others start schools too soon, and in so doing, time
is used for these ministries that should be used for the regular work of
the church, and many churches have been damaged because ministries were
started before waiting.
Let me say a word of warning to church members.
This advice is not being given to you to cause you to start trouble in
the church. If the pastor has waited and then presents the program, it
is almost always best for you to go along with him, and even if you do
not go along with him, it is never wise to cause trouble! Follow God’s
man! Moses waited a long time before he led the children of Israel out
of Egypt, but they did not know he was waiting. To them it may have appeared
to be a hasty decision, but to Moses it was after a time of waiting. Paul
appeared to be a bit impetuous in many of his decisions, but he. had waited
three years in the deserts of Arabia. Again I say, wait.
Jesus said to the apostles, “Tarry ye in Jerusalem.”
The prophet Isaiah reminded us to wait upon the Lord. Jesus admonished
us concerning His return to watch and wait.
Wait until you are sure, and be sure to wait!
When a solid assurance comes to act and when this assurance comes after
a period of waiting, make haste to implement the work that God has led
you to do and the thing that God has called you to do. Let not the waiting
be done concerning the work which you know you are to do. Let the waiting
be done in making the decision that it is His will that the work be done!
I Corinthians 15:31, “I protest by your rejoicing
which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.”
Romans 8:36, “As it is written, For thy sake we
are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”
Galatians 2:20, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless
I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live
in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave
Himself for me.”
I love the woods! I spend much of my time alone
with God in them. I have a little place in the woods where I go daily just
for the purpose of praising God. I spend 15 minutes at that sacred little
spot. For 60 seconds I write on a card or a paper the things that God has
done for me recently. After I have made the list, I then go back through
the list and praise God for each of them. It is not unusual for me to clap
my hands, even take off my shoes and have a little spell as I praise God
for what He has done for me.
I then leave that little spot in the woods and
go to another. Though the branches at the first spot seem to clap themselves
together when I arrive for my praise time, the branches at the second spot
seem to bow themselves reverently, because this is where I go to worship.
I take 60 seconds to list the things that God is, such as, God is merciful,
God is gracious, God is longsuffering, God is forbearing, God is love.
Then I go back through the list of what God is and worship Him for what
He is. I spend 15 minutes at this worship place.
I then go to another little place in the woods
where I confess my sins. This is done beneath a weeping willow tree, because
I do not want to be the only one weeping when I confess. I begin by taking
about 60 seconds and listing my sins. Then I go back through the list and
plead for forgiveness and strength over temptation. I do this for about
Then I go to a little place in the woods that
is the most sacred of all. It is a place where I pray and present my petitions
to God. It is where I plead for power. It is where I plead for His mercy,
His guidance, His leadership. It is here where I pray for each member of
my family by name and ask God’s blessings upon them. This is my prayer
place and the fourth stop in my daily journey through the woods. I usually
spend a minimum of an hour at this place. One day a week I spend about
3 hours there and still another day a week I spend from 4 to 51/2 hours
there. Because of this, the woods are very dear to me.
My favorite time of the year in the woods is the
wintertime, while the trees are bare. The reason this is my favorite season
is that this is the time when the trees are alive. This is not the usual
opinion. Most people would say that the trees are alive in the spring and
the summer, but quite to the contrary! The trees are dying in the spring,
the summer and the fall. They are alive in the winter. This is when life
is coming into them that will be spent in the spring and summer and finally
in the fall, so the trees are living while the branches are bare. New life
is entering. The trees are dying when covered with leaves, for then the
life is being spent.
Each evening I take my cordless electric shaver
and plug it into the wall socket. Through the night it is being charged.
It is living. Life is entering. Then I take it with me the next day and
use it. While it is being used, it is dying. It is using up the life that
it got through the night. This is the way the trees are. They are living
in the wintertime as they gather life. They are dying in the spring, summer
and fall as they are giving up that life.
This is what Paul meant when he said in Romans
8:36, “For thy sake we are killed all the day long.” Notice it is “all
the DAY long.” He tells us why he is killed all the day long. It is for
the sake of God’s people.
Now read I Corinthians 15:31, “I protest by your
rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.” Notice especially
the three words, “I die daily.” Give special attention to the word DAILY.
Actually he is saying, “I serve daily,” because serving is dying. Living
is time spent with God when new life is received. Dying is time spent with
our fellow Christians in service to them and for them. Paul could not say
that he died daily if he had not spent time living daily So really what
we think is death is life, and what we think is life is death. Paul wrote
to Timothy and said, “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she
liveth.” John wrote the church at Sardis to tell them that they had a name
that they were alive, but they were dead. What man thinks is life is death,
and what man thinks is death is life! Death is the expenditure of life
that is received while alone with God.
So the Christian life really has two major parts,
living and dying. The living part is that time when we are plugged into
Heaven. Dying is that time when we serve our fellowman as we expend the
life we received while we were plugged into Heaven.
Hence, there are two tragedies in the Christian
life. Some try to die all the time, but it doesn’t work. Only that which
is alive can die, and until a person is alive in Christ by communion with
Him, he has no death to die. This is the reason for our futility in service
for God. This is the reason for our powerless Christian lives. We go, go,
go, serve, serve, serve, work, work, work, but we cannot die because we
have no life to give. It is just routine with no blessing from Heaven and
no power of God.
Another tragedy is the person who spends all of
his time living. He never dies. He becomes so enchanted with the prayer
closet and with the study that he spends all his time being plugged in
and becomes much like a monk in a monastery. He is of no value to his fellowman
because he is not willing to die. He gets to the place where he enjoys
living so much that he refuses to go out into the highways and hedges to
die for others.
The balanced Christian life is that life that
spends hours alone with God living, then leaves the prayer closet and study
to spend hours with man dying. To leave off the living means there is nothing
that can die. To leave off the dying nullifies the purpose for living.
What value is it if the tree receives life all winter only to refuse to
give fruit, blossoms and leaves in the spring and summer and fall. On the
other hand, the tree that receives no life will have nothing to die, and
there can be no foliage.
One of the main reasons why Christian people cannot
get along with each other is that we cannot die for each other or that
we refuse to do so. Either we have no life to die for others because we
have not spent time with God in securing a life to give, or we spend so
much time securing life that we refuse to die for others, and they go unloved
Yes, I love the woods. I love them in the spring
when life springs forth and begins to die. I love them in the summer as
they spend the life they gathered in the winter. I love them in the autumn
when they are the most beautiful of all in death, and the dying process
that started at birth is completed. I love them most in the wintertime,
for though they lack the beauty and luster of the spring, summer and fall,
nevertheless, I am aware that they are living and gaining life in order
that they may die for us when spring comes.
Everything is born dying. When a baby is born,
what really happens is that death is born. As soon as the cord is cut,
the baby begins to die. They die at birth, or at least they begin to die
at birth. What we want to do as human beings is postpone death as long
as possible. We know that death is inevitable, but through diet, exercise,
medicine, etc. we are trying to prolong the inevitable as long as possible.
This is true with institutions. I am aware that someday Hyles-Anderson
College will be in the hands of liberals, and I am aware that it is now
dying. However, there are ways that that death can be prolonged and that
its usefulness may continue for a longer period of time when it would without
nurture and care.
May God help me to go to Him that I might live
and go to others that I might die, and then go to Him that I might live
and go to others that I might die. May I walk with Him in such a close
communion that I will have a life to die for my brothers and sisters in
Christ. May God help you, dear reader, to abide in Him that you may live
and to spend that life dying for others. This is why Paul could write in
Galatians 2:20a, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live.” He
lived and died and lived and died and lived and died. If there is no living,
there is nothing to die, and if there is no dying, then there is no purpose
in living. As the old man 88 years of age said on his deathbed as I held
his bony hand, “Thank you, Preacher, for walking with God six days a week
and for telling me on the seventh what God said.”