Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
April 20, 1961
NUMBER 49, PAGE 4,16

From A Preacher's Note - Book

James W. Adams, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

"When I Am Right'

Truth is the golden key that unlocks the door to the mysteries of the universe. It is the password that admits us to the inner sanctum of life's real joy and contentment. It is the irresistible force that swings wide the gate of pearl to the Elysian fields of God's glory in the world to come. In its possession, we are fearfully and wonderfully blessed. Yet, its possession often breed arrogance in the possessor both in realms material and in spiritual. Field Marshall Viscount Montgomery, famous British soldier of World War II, suggests the following prayer for all commanders-in-chief : "0 Lord, teach me to be right instead of wrong, and help me to live with others when I am right." (Quotation from Nuggets, October 1959)

There is so much pernicious error in the world of religion both within and without the church of the living God! Those who possess the truth in the full sense of that expression are wonderfully blessed in these days of confusion and strife. Yet, how often it is true that he who possesses the truth is sterile because he has not learned to "live with others when he is right." The practitioners and purveyors of errors are often "wiser in their generation than the children of light." They spend much time and thought in the matter of "living with others." They are, therefore, wonderfully influential in the promotion of their fallacies. Pride in being right often blocks the door into the hearts of others. Arrogance born of the knowledge that we are right often distorts the image of divine truth which we reflect to those that "sit in darkness and the region of death."

God is "truth." Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) Yet, Jesus was the meekest and humblest man who ever walked upon this earth. Without an iota of compromise he "lived with others." His very humility lent pungency to his doctrine. Perhaps the most uncompromising teacher of the apostolic church was the Apostle Paul. Yet, "he became all things to all men.... that he might by all means save some." Humility and gentleness are not incompatible with "soundness." They are rather synonymous with it in its highest and best form. "When we are right," let us by all means "learn to live with others" that the truth within our minds and hearts might not lie sterile within us, but rather, may spread abroad in the hearts of others bearing fruit to the salvation of many and the glory of God. May God help us, therefore, not to allow the forces inimical to truth or arrogance born of our knowledge of truth to create within us an attitude that repels rather than draws. Our knowledge of truth makes us akin to deity. Such knowledge should not "puff up," but instead, should lay upon us such a tremendous sense of responsibility that the manner of its dissemination will be the very essence of humility. Yes, indeed, "Lord, teach us when we are right to live with others!" (JWA)

Whom Do We Reward?

The fate of a nation could well be determined by the answer to the question, "Whom do we reward?" In high schools and colleges, the big man of the campus is the star of the football team. He it is whose education is subsidized. He it is who receives weekly write-ups in the campus newspaper. He it is who is given a letter and immortalized in the annual. Small wonder then that scholarship languishes. Poor scholar! What does he get? A's on his report card? Yes, but anonymity on the campus, except, of course, when he is described hilariously as an "egg head," "book worm," or as a sort of pitiful, "off beat," recluse. When such is true, it can easily be seen why scholars are few. A football coach who has a B. A. degree and that largely given to him draws a salary comparable to or larger than the salary of the learned Ph. D. who is the president of the University. A ditch-digger makes more than a high school teacher. Is it any wonder that the nation suffers for the want of scientists?

Many weep over the quality of our literature, art, and music. Materialism rides roughshod over culture. Why? Could it be that the answer lies in whom we reward? Thomas Griffith says in his book, The Waist High Culture; "We respect the arts in principle but reward the illustrator rather than the artist, the jingle writer over the poet, the tunesmith over the composer." Yes, indeed, a Rock and Roll singer wallows in millions and a great musician starves in an attic. A cartoonist grows sleek and fat on caviar and an artist develops ulcers in a hot-dog stand. A slime-monger of pornography luxuriates in a penthouse and a scholar in a tenement.

Among the churches of the Lord there exists the same problem. Not that the servant of the Lord is motivated by worldly ambitions or the lust for riches and reputation, but we do believe that the type preacher which is now characteristic of the churches of Christ certainly reflects the past and present attitude of the brethren with reference to whom we reward. The time was when the preacher who was "deep in the Scriptures" and able in their presentation and defense and spiritual in character was he who was much in demand by the churches. For a decade or two now the churches have in a very large degree been more interested in academic degrees, ability to meet the public, organizational and promotional skill, beside manner, popularity with youth, and tolerance and liberality in the field of morals. Since such is the character of the preacher whom the churches have rewarded, little by little preachers have been fashioned into this pattern until such is the rule rather than the exception. The greatest Bible preachers among the churches of this and past generations have spent the ripest years of their lives in obscurity and semi-retirement unloved unwanted, and unsung while practically beardless boys, immature, Biblically unlearned, and many times wholly deficient in spirituality have basked in the adulation of the brethren. To say that the churches have suffered because of this is to put the matter mildly. Brethren, let us take care whom we reward.

A Convenient Season

When the Apostle Paul made his defense before the Roman Governor, Felix, the great monarch trembled and said, "Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season. I will call for thee." Visibly shaken almost to the point of conversion, Felix might have become a Christian and might spend eternity with God but the fact that he put consideration of the matter off until a "more convenient season," While he heard Paul many times after this, the season was never convenient for becoming a Christian. As far as we can determine, he was never again affected favorably by the preaching of Paul.

A great many people both in and out of the kingdom of God make the same mistake. They are impressed with their duties and obligations to God. They are even moved to do something about them, but they put the matter off until a "more convenient season." Consequently, the duties are never performed nor the obligations discharged. We ran across the following pithy statement in the February 1961 issue of Nuggets:

"Anyone who plans to do something when conditions are just right will never get it done. Conditions never are just right. It is necessary to take them as they are and to start in on whatever project one has in mind. Those who do that find that they can often make conditions right as they go along, perhaps not all at once but fast enough to keep their project going. Nor should it ever be overlooked that many things of major importance have been accomplished in spite of adverse conditions."

In Paul's charge to Timothy, written as he faced certain martyrdom in Rome for the gospel's sake, he made clear that for the doing of the will of God there is never an "inconvenient season." He said: "Preach the word! be instant in season, out of season...." (2 Tim. 4:2) Many a noble plan for doing God service and bringing salvation tc the souls of men has died on the awful plain of "do nothing' smitten by the poisoned dart of "waiting for a more convenient season." Christians must not bend to the will of circumstances, but rather, should bend circumstances to the doing of the will of God. (JWA)