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“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men….”

—1 Peter 2:15

In case anyone hasn’t noticed, we are being barraged, beset and besieged by crazy and irrational things—which are being done by men who ought to know better. It seems that every time we turn around we hear another heart-rending report, receive another “book bomb,” or have to put out another fire caused by yet another groundless rumor. And if we read the signs right, the forecast for the foreseeable future doesn’t look very hopeful, either. Truly we have lived to see the day when evil men and seducers have waxed worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.

What could be more disheartening than to see men who have stood against divorce and remarriage for years silently succumbing to pressure from their children and grandchildren, and letting up on their message? –Or worse still, to see a man devote his sunset years vainly trying to destroy a congregation that he has spent the greater part of his life and ministry building…. Or what about the faithful saint, who after following the pastor for years, suddenly decides that they want an easier way, only to wind up in a loose, Laodicean church across town? The pain we feel from such wounds is as acute as is it immeasurable.

You never quite get accustomed to such bad news. Always there is a hope and a desire that things will work out, and people will do what they’re supposed to do. But all too often we are finding out that some folks, who have every reason to be otherwise, are turning out to be pretty foolish, and are doing some rather ignorant things. It is in times like these that the admonition of the Apostle Peter stands out like a bright beacon on a dismal, foggy night:

“For so is the will of God, that with well doing ye may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men….”

(I Peter 2:15)

Instinctively, we want to do something about perceived problems. But our carnal reflexes are a very poor response to spiritual problems. Sometimes we lash out—often with very good intentions but disastrous results. Our best recourse in the face of such an onslaught of adversity is to resolve to continue doing what we know to be right, in spite of all those who are doing otherwise. It is not always the wisest course of action to fight fire with fire; sometimes a fire needs to be smothered with a blanket. For where there is no fuel, there the fire goeth out.

It is certain that impulsive, impetuous ranting and raving does nothing but fan the flames of certain fires—fires which we are ostensibly attempting to extinguish. And while our commission to preach the Word authorizes us to reprove and rebuke, we may only rightfully do so under the constraint of longsuffering and within the parameters of doctrine.

It has always been the plight of those who are “right” to suffer wrongfully at the hands of those who are not—and so shall it ever be in this age. And while it is never the easiest way out, nor is it the path of least resistance, the high road invariably wins out over the low road. Our natural man cries out for revenge, but our spiritual man intercedes and pleads for mercy. No matter how we are repulsed by others’ lack of ethics and loss of integrity, our sole option is to overcome evil with good.

It never feels good when someone you trust and confide in betrays your confidence. And it is especially painful when a pastor seeks counseling from a fellow minister about certain rebels in the local assembly, only to have his friend side with his enemies, and as a result splinter the congregation. But what shall we say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? We must continue to “do well”—or in other words, maintain a right spirit; keep preaching the whole counsel of God; continue speaking the truth in love; retain our balance in a topsy-turvy world; and endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

If our enemy hungers, we are admonished by Scripture to feed him—and so heap coals of fire upon his head. And while our first reaction is to feed him a “knuckle” sandwich, the Spirit of our Master must be allowed to govern us. For if He taught us anything, He taught us how to react to wrongdoing:

“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously….”

(1 Peter 2:21-23)

It is not easy to sit in a room and be reviled by small-minded, irrational men, whose total lack of compassion reveals the emptiness of their heart. Neither is it pleasant to hear rumors and erroneous reports from various parts of the country being spread by rebellious “ain’ts” whose egos dwarf their intellects. Sometimes it seems like it would be so good to be able to set the record straight; but the only way to do so would be to engage in a dishonest man’s quarrel—and there is no way to end such a fight cleanly. So our only choice is to continue to “do well.” Eventually, the ignorance of foolish men will be silenced. As much as we want to cry out, our well-meaning voice will simply be lost in the raucous cacophony of chaos.

God knows who’s right.

And He always takes care of His own.

 

Rev. Tim D. Cormier

Reprinted from the July, 2000 edition of the Apostolic Standard

(C) Copyright held by Tim D. Cormier. This document may not be reproduced in whole or in part, except for personal use, without the express written permission of the author.

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