Convictions (2)

Sincerity

Others are more likely to pay attention to what we say if we are truly sincere. I don’t think that we can be in the fear of God without being truly sincere. Psalm 25 has two verses encouraging us to be in the fear of God (vv12, 14). A combination of mercy and truth is pleasing to the Lord (Prov 3: 3-4; 16:6; and 20:28). “Mercy and truth preserve the king” (Prov 20:28, KJV). The more that God’s people can see a blend of mercy and truth in their overseers, the more they carry the confidence of the saints.

“Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46, KJV), said the officers, explaining why they did not arrest the Lord Jesus. Paul wrote, ”… but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the Word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2Cor 4:2, KJV). Paul so acted that, even if his opponents knew every action that he took, they would still have had every reason to believe that he was acting with a good conscience.

The truth never needs a lie to defend it, and it never needs underhanded methods to sustain it. When we are sincere, we should be walking with wisdom from above. “But the wisdom which is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy” (James 3:17, KJV). We should notice that “peaceable” is not first. That would encourage compromise, but “pure” is first. If we are acting with wisdom from above, we will be as peaceable as possible, consistent with the truth of God. The Lord Jesus has the same priority in the Beatitudes. “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the sons of God” (Matt 5:9 RV). Peacemaking which pleases God is consistent with the previous beatitude, “Blessed are the pure in heart” (v8, Beatitudes)

Patience

Since it has taken some time for each of us to arrive at our convictions, we should not expect others to accept them the first time we tell those truths to them. Paul writes to Timothy that all reproving, rebuking, and exhortation should be made with longsuffering and doctrine (2Tim 4:2). That shows us that we should have a longsuffering attitude, and we should teach doctrine. God’s people should not be expected to accept what I teach just because I believe it.They should be expected to consider what I teach if I show them from God’s Word what the Bible teaches. No teacher should ever have the attitude, “If you don’t bow 100% to all that I say, you are worthless as far as I am concerned.”

The late William Williams in Venezuela tells this story in his booklet Rabbi, Where Dwellest Thou? William Williams was saved among the Bullingerites who do not believe that baptism is for today. The late John Smith was trying to teach William baptism. Mr. Smith was having difficulty, so he left his seat and went over to William. William Williams quoted 2 Timothy 2: 24-25 to him and said, “That is not the kind of spirit you have been showing to me!” Mr. Smith said, “You are right, son,” and went back to his seat. Mr. Smith’s reaction had a good effect on William Williams. He said to himself, “There is a man and the Word of God means everything to him.” Thank God William saw the truth of baptism, and God used him to see a good number saved and baptized after his commendation to Venezuela.

Humility

“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8, KJV). The apostle Paul was walking humbly with God when he wrote, “I labored more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1Cor 15:10, KJV). He attributed his super-abundant labors solely to the grace of God.

The thing that brings the greatest resentment on the part of outsiders is when they see pride along with being different. Sometimes, they think that they see pride when it isn’t even there. I heard the late Sydney Maxwell say that he thought that the assembly believers were the most conceited young men he knew, because they had a Bible chapter and verse for what they believed and it was different from what Sydney believed at that time. Sydney went on to explain that he realized later that he himself had been the conceited one.

James Stevenson was one of the seven overseers who signed my letter of commendation. During World War I, there was no provision for conscientious objectors to war. James felt that he could serve as a non-combatant. He was among about 30 who were shipped to different parts of the USA without a uniform. After about a month there were only six left. These six were put through a much more severe test.

They were brought to a parade field with their civilian clothes and a commander marched a battalion of men in full dress uniform in front of them. He was not very polite. He said that they were cowards, afraid to fight, and had a yellow stripe up their backs. He intimated that they would prove that they were not cowards if they joined the ranks and they would get their uniforms afterwards. As he spoke he could see one after the other of the non-combatants joining the ranks. After about 20 minutes, he said triumphantly, “And now, I don’t suppose there is one of them left!”

He turned around and there was one left, James Stevenson, 19 years of age. The commander asked him, “How come you’re still here?” James answered something like this. “If it wasn’t for the grace of God I would have been with you a long time ago. I was a sinner on the way down to hell and God by His grace saved me. Since God saved me I don’t feel free to pull a trigger and send another man down to hell.”

The commander said, “Ok, son. Tomorrow morning we are opening a medical dispensary, and you can be in charge of that.” James Stevenson’s testimony had greater weight because he attributed the difference between himself and the other men solely to the grace of God. He was walking humbly with his God.