Vol.XI No.I Pg.3
March 1974

Sores Of Discord

Dan S. Shipley

Where two or three are gathered together there is apt to be trouble. Or, so it seems from the distressing reports we hear of the many churches currently engulfed in turmoil and strife. There is seemingly no end to this Satan-satisfying discord and division, not to mention the bitter affliction it brings and leaves among Gods people. Even apart from those problems that might be called doctrinal, many churches continue to suffer with some form of internal strife, often to the point of biting and devouring and division (Gal. 5:15). More often than not such problems will be traceable to trifles that have been inflated by pride and bad attitudes.

Consequently, the slightest disagreement between brethren, with a little nurturing, rehearsing, and advertising, can develop into a festering and sensitive congregational sore. Such things as hearsay remarks, imagined mistreatment or being crossed in the least way can easily become the germs for creating an epidemic of church troubles. As James writes concerning one aspect of such problems, Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! (Jas. 3:5). The best fire control is spark control. Related to people, this means self-control in the very beginning of real or imagined friction. Self-control is essentially keeping the heart, from whence are the issues of life (Prov. 4:23). It is here that potentially dangerous sparks such as evil surmisings and vain imaginations are snuffed out; from here the sparks of pride and tongue are easily extinguished. Ignoring the germs and sparks of people-problems almost insures worse. But, we knew all along what THEY needed and what THEY had done in walking disorderly! If we could just get THEM to see—thats the problem isnt it? NO! The problem is getting ME to see! —to see that the first application of gospel truth must be to SELF. Isnt it strange that neither side of most disputes ever entertain the idea that they might be in the wrong? —or even partly to blame? Truly, it is much easier to be critical than to be correct (Disraeli). Vision is no poorer than in the man who is blinded to his own weaknesses. We see such a man in the self-righteous Pharisee (Lk. 18:9-14); we see such a church at Laodicea (Rev. 3:17). No wonder God says, examine yourselves (2 Cor. 13:5). No honest man can examine another better than he can examine himself. And only as honest men recognize and confess their sins will the ends of truth be served.

However, even with my best efforts there is no guarantee that I will not be mistreated by others. What then? Do I complain loud and long and peddle my ill will? Quit? Go elsewhere? No, there is a better alternative; one suggested by Paul to other brethren who had been wronged: Why not rather take wrong? (1 Cor. 6:7) Doing so proves one to be like Christ and acceptable with God. (1 Pet. 2:20-23) It is the proof of genuine love —the kind that suffers long, does not behave itself unseemly, seeks not its own; the kind that is not provoked, bears and endures all things (1 Cor. 13) and which is the bond of perfectness (Col. 3:14). What better balm for the sores of discord? May God help ME to apply it.