SDA Sabbath School Lesson 10

Wednesday December 4, 1996

Take Heed To Thyself (1 Tim. 4:16).

One of the great challenges of the church militant is to uphold a high standard while at the same time avoiding a spirit of condemnation and hostile reform. Yet neither can we advocate love to the point of permissiveness. "True charity is too pure to cover an unconfessed sin.... We are to make no compromise with evil." - The Acts of the Apostles, p. 555.

Where is the great work of reform to begin? 1 Tim. 4:16 (compare Deut. 4:9).

We can hardly overemphasize the need for humble, daily self- examination to see that we remain in the faith of Jesus Christ. Those who desire to rescue others from the swift-running current of sin must be sure that their own feet are firmly planted on safe ground. Many zealous reformers have assumed that because they are fighting the battles of the Lord, they are immune to Satan. Meanwhile, others, whose own positions may be questioned, painstakingly subject people to their own special theological litmus tests, hardly realizing that God alone is the judge of a balanced, definitive presentation of the gospel.

Let us prove all things and continually feast upon the Word of God, giving one another opportunity to grow in the understanding of truths that are difficult to express fully. None of us can ever expect to state the truth with such precision and beauty that all honest souls will comprehend it perfectly. Understanding truth is the fruit of grace and of each believer's personal fellowship with Christ and His Word (1 Cor. 8:1-3; 1 Cor. 13:8-13).

In 1 Timothy 4:16, "[Paul] asserts the primary importance of dependable Christian character as a qualification for service to the church. Acquaintance with the teachings of the church is important, but this knowledge can never compensate for a questionable reputation. The most winsome argument for Christianity is not unanswerable logic but the fragrance of a Christlike life. Sincere seekers for truth are not interested in theory, but in a working philosophy of life that can solve their problems and help them to overcome their weaknesses. When non-Christians who are honest in heart see that the gospel changes selfish, vain, timeserving men into pure, unselfish Christians they will be drawn to the Christ of the gospel." - SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 307.

How can we avoid judging others while at the same time discerning and clinging to pure truth as we test all things?