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Don’t Tug! — 14 Comments

  1. This post has been so uplifting to me. Thanks a lot for this Stephen. There have been times when I thought about whether I was growing or not. This just helps me to confirm that even growth is hidden and at certain points, it is possible to see it.

  2. Thank you for this wonderful illustration. The Lord, in that mysterious way of His, has been working in my life in this area and your article has been a confirmation. I pray that the lesson learned will come to my remembrance every time I am tempted to "tug". May the Lord continue to use you to illustrate His love principles.

  3. Thank you for your post. This is something we need to pray to God to keep us from doing. Lack of compassion and being judgmental is Satan' character and totally opposed to our loving Father's.

    At the same time there is another extreme we could go - which is carelessness. Not warning my brother when he/she is persisting in a known sin is not a loving attitude at all. Letting him/her stay separated from God is hate from my part. Of course, I need to pray God to help me show the tact that Jesus showed.

    I like how Ellen White puts it:

    Jesus did not suppress one word of truth, but He uttered it always in love. He exercised the greatest tact and thoughtful, kind attention in His intercourse with the people. He was never rude, never needlessly spoke a severe word, never gave needless pain to a sensitive soul. He did not censure human weakness. He spoke the truth, but always in love. He denounced hypocrisy, unbelief, and iniquity; but tears were in His voice as He uttered His scathing rebukes. (Steps to Christ, pg. 12)

    May God build in us the same character so that we may also "never needlessly speak a severe word".

    How do I strike a right balance? It seems to me it's when I am surrendering myself to God and let Him remove all selfishness from me. Also it really helps if the person warning me is a close friend. This is because I know that he only intends the best for me and even though what he says hurts, I can thank him.

    What is your opinion, pastor Terry?

    • Christian, I think that what is of importance is that those scathing rebukes to the Pharisees were during His last week on earth and was a last ditch effort to reach those hardened people before they condemned Him to death.

      To me what Stephen was getting at was the correction we all too often tend to give without thinking of any possible repercussions (collateral damage) it may cause. Besides quite often we don't know the full story and make snap judgments that are totally wrong. For instance, I have told the story before about a pastor whose young daughter swallowed some alcohol of the dangerous type which got into her blood stream so the doctor prescribed booze in order to replace the dangerous stuff. Imagine what would happen if a "proper" saint saw him walk out of a liquor store with a bottle of the hard stuff and judged the pastor on that basis. Consider what that would have done (luckily it didn't happen).

      Certainly there are times when sin has to be called by its right name such as it was in Corinth (1 Cor 5:1) but as far as I am concerned it is far better to keep the fiery tongue quiet when there is the least bit of doubt about a situation which includes rumors. As Ellen White counseled teachers, "When it is necessary to give reproof, their language will not be exaggerated, but humble. In gentleness they will set before the wrongdoer his errors and help him to recover himself. Every true teacher will feel that should he err at all, it is better to err on the side of mercy than on the side of severity" (Ed 293.2 https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_Ed.293.2)
      Or concerning sexual problems, "I wish that we had much more of the Spirit of Christ and a great deal less self, and less of human opinions. If we err, let it be on the side of mercy rather than on the side of condemnation and harsh dealing.--Letter 16, 1887. (Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce 242.4 https://egwwritings.org/?ref=en_TSB.242.4).

      • "Certainly there are times when sin has to be called by its right name such as it was in Corinth (1 Cor 5:1) but as far as I am concerned it is far better to keep the fiery tongue quiet when there is the least bit of doubt about a situation which includes rumors."

        Thank you for this insight. Indeed, prejudgement is something that God specially hates. We need to pray not to fall into this.

    • Absolutely agree with what you said Christian, its like when people divorce in Gods church (or other acts that's against Gods will and the standing of the church). It becomes normal in the church of Christ because people want to please people and not God. Joshua 24:15 said "choose you today, whom will you serve, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord."

    • Hi, Cristian. I feel you are right about the importance of balance. If you have ever played with a top as a child, you know that balance is intrinsic to the moving top. As long as it has power to spin, it will remain in balance. Just as we can infuse the top with power to spin, perhaps God is the power that provides the balance in our lives.

      You have correctly noted in "Steps to Christ" that Ellen White refers to "scathing rebukes." We might also note that this was Christ, and we are not Christ. He has life underived, we do not. He is omniscient, we are not.

      In "Thoughts from the Mount of Blessings," page 125, we read "When he thinks he has detected a flaw in the character or the life he is exceedingly zealous in trying to point it out; but Jesus declares that the very trait of character developed in doing this un-Christlike work, is, in comparison with the fault criticized, as a beam in proportion to a mote." I find it interesting that she calls this an "un-Christlike work." If it is not Christlike to point out others failings then what work is it? Perhaps we get a clue from Revelation 12:10. It appears from this verse and those that follow it that maybe accusation is a tool of the enemy and not Christ. Maybe it is because we are all sinners in need of grace that such tools of accusation seem so natural to us. Yet, when we give our hearts to God, a different Spirit speaks to us. When this happens, we may begin to see how out of balance a spirit of accusation can make us.

      Let's see if a practical example can help our understanding. Which is more loving? I can tell others of the many blessings I have received because of a change in my life, or I can point out to others that they have not made this change so they are spiritually lacking and should immediately make the change. While my flesh tells me to do the latter, my heart tells me that the first is the more powerful witness and is more loving.

      • I concur however when it comes to leadership of the church rebuking the leaders of their wrong is a necessity consider ...This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith; (Titus 1:13 KJV).

      • Jesus Himself brings balance to the idea of addressing a problem seen is someone elses life: "First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye." (Mat 7:5) Jesus also commands us, "if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. ...." (Mat 18:15). Paul similarly exhorts us, "Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted." (Gal 6:1) With all this, we have little excuse for not first humbling ourselves before God and then doing what we can to help our neighbor/brother.

    • For a start, I have found that it often helps to ask questions first, to seek to understand what happened from the point of view of the "brother ... in sin". If the brother is open to talk on the subject at all, he may answer and I will understand better how to respond. It's just like when we see a doctor who does an interview, clinical exam and all the necessary tests before making a diagnosis. Only then can he say how to treat. If the brother is not open to hear anything, he may also show that in his response to tactful questions. Also, sometimes the problem was my perception rather than something on the brother's side and really I needed to be corrected instead.

      • Excellent reminder, John! Asking questions first is probably always important, because we cannot see as God sees, and thus we cannot judge rightly.

        In all things, we should remember that the Golden Rule applies. I, for one, appreciate when a friend lets me know where/how I would do better by changing my ways. It is not love to allow friends to go the wrong way and not do anything to turn them around. But we can only do that for friends, and that means we either need to become friends with the one we wish to help, or we need to keep quiet and let someone else do the ministering.

        I think the key is in the focus on the eternal welfare of the other person. Without such a focus, any “rebuke” can only be negative.

        I saw Stephen’s point as being that we cannot force others to grow and should not try. If we feel we are spiritually “advanced” in comparison to another, we need to demonstrate that by our lives, and it will be effective. If we are not demonstrating it, no amount of words will do any good.

        It's a different matter when we see brother and sisters clearly heading the wrong way. That's when we need to follow the counsel of Matthew 18:15-16. And that means talking directly to the person, not talkin about


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