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Friday, November 13, 2009

"For it was not an enemy that reproached me" Psalm 55

For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.  (Psalms 55:12-14) 

One cannot read these words without sensing the great sorrow and sadness of its author. For its heartbreaking truths had pierced his very heart and soul! Such treatment he could expect from his enemies, but from a friend? A man his equal, his guide, his acquaintance? He, who took sweet counsel together and with whom he walked unto the house of God in company? How devastating, how tragic and how sorrowful! 

And yet, countless believers have known and felt the burden of this great sorrow themselves, our Lord Himself not being spared. For though “many are the afflictions of the righteous” (Psalm 34:19), few afflictions carry the weight of such sorrow and sadness as this burden spoken of by the Psalmist. A burden which he declares “he could not bear.”

Few there be today, amongst those who profess to truly know Christ, who understand and value the love and unity which Christ so emphasized throughout His earthly ministry, especially in those last hours before His crucifixion. Alone with His disciples in that upper chamber, on the very eve of His death, our Lord spent much time and effort in exhorting them in love, humility and unity amongst themselves.  (John 13-17)

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13:34-35)

Where many would place the greatest emphasis on knowledge or doctrine (both of which have their proper place), the greatest evidence to the world of our truly being Christ’s disciples is the love we manifest and show towards one another as believers. And yet, with all the controversies, strives, schisms, divisions and partisanship amongst believers, I fear this testimony, this mark of true discipleship, has greatly been weakened and in many places even lost!

I speak not of an unscriptural unity, nor of a fellowship without doctrine; But I speak of those who hold the truth in righteousness and adhere to sound doctrine. Those, who profess to know so much about biblical doctrine and are dogmatic in their beliefs, yet, lack a true spirit of love and unity which defines the greatest mark of being Christ’s disciple!

I am a sound and firm believer in learning and knowing doctrine and know that without biblical doctrine one cannot live the Christian life practically. Yet, it is those, who profess to be so sound in doctrine that appear to have lost the ability to live out that same doctrine in their daily lives. 

This I believe is the Psalmist’s greatest sorrow! Not simply that he had good fellowship such people, but those who magnified themselves against him, were the same people who “took sweet counsel together with him and walked in the house of God in company!” They agreed in the truths of God and were united in their beliefs, yet, their hearts were divided!  

Nothing can cause a more devastating blow to the cause of Christ in this present world, than when the unity and love between believers is marred by schisms and divisions. And though many might be quick to disagree with me, Christianity and the cause of Christ in America has suffered greatly because of such sorrowful and unnecessary schisms and contentions.

Throughout our travels in America and even here in West Texas this divisive and contentious spirit has wrought great havoc amongst God’s children and has greatly weakened many churches. Yet, so many are quick to defend such a spirit by claiming themselves to be “defenders of the faith and contending for the truths of God!” Yet, one can contend for the faith without being contentious. And is it biblically correct to use such a “contentious spirit” against those who are of the like faith, yet possibly differ in a few opinions and convictions?

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden. (Gal 6:1-5) 

We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me. (Romans 15:1-3 )

Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations. For one believeth that he may eat all things: another, who is weak, eateth herbs. Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man's servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand.  (Romans 14:1-4)

Here are just a few scriptural exhortations for those who profess to be “strong or of full age” in Christ. May those who profess such spiritual strength begin to practice such divine truths before others, that we all might learn and value the great blessings which come from Christian unity, love and compassion. 

Otherwise, we shall yet see the churches even more weakened and the spiritual decay which abounds everywhere spread even more amongst the next generation of believers! Let this generation be not guilty of passing on to the next generation of believers such a contentious and divisive spirit! But let us be living examples of true humility, love, patience and compassion which defines us to truly be Christ’s disciples!

For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked unto the house of God in company.  (Psalms 55:12-14)