Click on the quote below to read the article...

Leaders can only go so far in correcting their followers. We have been trying to get people to deal with their "besetting sins" personally, based on their own initiative, rather than waiting for others to take grievances against them. A gun to the head will achieve nothing if you don't want to resolve the issue. "A person convinced against their will is of the same opinion still."

Moral "adults" are people who work on spiritual growth without being forced to do so. If you pretend the problem has been resolved the moment I (or someone else) stops shouting at you, then you are still "children". You will not become adults until you personally want to resolve errors in your own spirit, with or without comments from me or anyone else.

Those who have left our fellowship basically want us to pretend that they have no problems. Come to think of it, it's more or less the terms of our "friendship" with any systemite. We can criticise others, but not them.

Those who reject friendship even on those terms do so because they know that even if we don't say something to them directly, we are still spiritually mature enough to recognise (and probably even discuss amongst ourselves) the contradictions in their lives. They can't handle the thought of anyone even thinking that they have a problem.

But whether people choose to backslide through open rebellion, or whether they choose to backslide simply by not dealing with some weakness that they can still get away with, the point is still that, in God's eyes, they are backslidden. Whether or not someone shouts at you to wash your face won't make your face any cleaner or dirtier.

I should probably add that all of this is not particularly pushing for anything in the way of a response from anyone; it's not words that are needed. It's a change in your own spirit... something that can only be perfectly detected by God.

There are different levels of spiritual growth, and it pays to observe what direction people are moving in. Apologies of any sort require a certain amount of humility and honesty; and attempts even at superficial friendship should be sincerely recognised and appreciated. Even people who want nothing to do with us, but who continue to work for God in some other capacity, must be given some sort of respect and support for what they are doing (though I'm not sure how that fits in with Matthew 5:23-24).

But the bottom line spiritually is something deeper than either words or outward actions. It is something between each individual and God. If you cannot tell the difference between what others say and what God says, between what others think and what God thinks, then you are still spiritually stunted in your growth.

Exactly where God draws the line between sincerity and insincerity is not clear. I think he judges us each according to how much we actually know. If we are genuinely blind to a fault, then he will almost certainly go easier on us than he will if we are trying to see how much we can get away with.

But the devil is very subtle. He can convince you that God doesn't expect you to change, when God really does. Keep listening to the devil, and you'll get a "reprobate mind" which will actually believe the lie. The lie being that you don't know any better than to go on sinning the way you have been.

But I want to encourage people at the level they are at (more than likely, a level which they have chosen, mind you), as long as I can do so without my encouragement being taken as an excuse to stay there. I keep saying that I won't raise the matter any more; but then it goes on for so long without any improvement that I start to feel like I am an accomplice in your decision not to grow spiritually, and I speak up once again.

If you get no credit for alms that other people see and compliment you for, perhaps you also get no credit for spiritual growth that does not occur until someone else kicks you in the seat.

I appreciate what each of you is doing to help the cause of Christ, and the effort it took you to get this far. I appreciate any effort you may be making to improve your spiritual discipline. Please do not use my criticisms as an excuse to get condemned for what God has been able to do through you so far, and what he may continue to do through you. But by the same token, don't let my compliments become an excuse to stop growing either.

(See also The Social Conscience Part 1.)

Register or log in to take the quiz for this article

Pin It
Don't have an account yet? Register Now!

Sign in to your account