Food for Friday

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offenses contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned, and avoid them. Romans 16:17

There is an old story about three men who were being interviewed for the job of stagecoach driver. The owner of the stagecoach line took them to a section of the road that ran around a corner of a mountain, where a cliff dropped off some 100 feet. He asked them how close they felt they could safely come to the edge of that cliff. The first man looked carefully at the roadbed and replied that he could safely drive the stagecoach within two feet of the edge. Not to be outdone, the next man declared that he could safely drive within one foot of the edge. The third man took a look at the precipice, shuddered at the drop-off, and declared that he wouldn’t be safe unless he was as far away from the edge as he could get. He got the job. We have to learn, don’t we, that there are some people and situations that we need to avoid and make a lifelong policy of doing so. One of those types of people, as our text indicates, is those who cause divisions among the Lord’s people.

If we are in God’s Assembly long enough, we will encounter these folks. They prey on people’s emotions and talk about how unfair the decisions of the Assembly oversight are to some in fellowship. They raise questions about the way the Assembly functions, they wonder aloud if some things in the Bible actually applies to our day and situations. They sneer at the attitudes of the most godly among us. In short, they seek to set some Assembly members against others, and seek to cause divisions. Paul has no problems with publicly identifying these people for what they are, and letting people know they are troublemakers. But he never advises challenging these troublemakers.

Just like the stagecoach driver, we need to steer away from the precipice of having anything to do with troublemakers, with those who try to cause divisions. Just like a stagecoach that gets too close to the precipice, we risk a terrible fall if we engage in arguments or debates with them; they are often just looking for a chance to spout their troublesome doctrine, so we must not give it to them. The apostle’s advice is simply to avoid them. That’s often hard to do, but it is scriptural.

What do you do when you encounter people stirring up trouble in the Assembly? Don’t tell them off! Tell the oversight. And pray. And you will stay out of trouble yourself. -Jim MacIntosh

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