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Words get us into trouble more than we care to admit. On occasion, we have all said the wrong thing. From our limited perspective, we formed an opinion, verbalized it, and did much harm. Other times, we have said the right things, but we said them in the wrong way and have done a lot of damage. I’ll be glad when we get to Heaven and will not have to worry about our tongues, which James says are “set on fire of hell” (James 3:6).
In the meantime, we must be very careful about what we say and how we say it. Jesus was described in John 1:14 as being “full of grace and truth.” This description beautifully portrays the balance that every Christian should have. I believe John was referring to Christ’s disposition (grace) and position (truth). If we want to be like Christ, we must remember that our disposition is just as important as our position.
As fundamental Baptists, we often focus on the right position—and rightfully so. In a day of compromise, it is very important for us to contend for the faith (Jude 3). Many churches are dipping their colors while being pressured by the world, academia, and organized religion. A number of churches today are a shadow of what they were fifty years ago. Their doctrine and stands have changed dramatically. Some call that progress, but I call it a shame. It is important for every believer to make sure that his positions are rooted in the truth of God’s Word.
In recent days, I have noticed a problem not only with weakened positions but also ungodly dispositions. It is possible for a man to have a position that is grounded in truth and yet have a repulsive disposition that drives people away from God’s Word. A man can preach a magnificent message on the virgin birth; yet if his heart is filled with pride, is he not as wrong as the liberal who denies the virgin birth? A man can preach on Biblical separation; yet if his heart is filled with pride, is he not as wrong as the compromiser who has the wrong position? By no means am I saying that our positions are not important. I am saying that we need to be concerned with how we say the truth, too.
Jesus used “gracious words” in Luke 4:22 when speaking to those who did not hold His viewpoint. The people in that synagogue had not declared Jesus to be the Messiah. This is obvious by the fact that they acknowledged Him as “Joseph’s son” later in the narrative. Yet Jesus used kind words to teach them the truth. I sometimes wonder if Jesus would have anything to do with some of the open letters, conflicts, and disputes that are among the brethren today. I am prone to think that a godly disposition would solve a lot of the problems in our circles.
Ephesians 4:15 tells us that we should speak the truth to each other in love. Sometimes, love demands a firm or even harsh disposition if the danger is grave. However, love will also demand a tender entreaty or meekness that appears to be weak in the eyes of some. If we get so caught up with positions that we forget about dispositions, we make a grave mistake and can drive people away from the truth.
When we say the right things the wrong way, we do great damage. We cause hurt to the cause of Christ. We create stumbling blocks for the brethren. We propagate a spirit of harshness that is motivated by pride, and we unnecessarily divide the brethren. The lost world looks and says, “If that is what a Christian is, then I want no part of it.” If we are full of grace and truth, we will help the brethren and we will be a shining light to a lost world.
One of the greatest pitfalls in the Christian life is to become imbalanced in our lives and ministries. Here at Ambassador Baptist College, we desire to have the balance of a Biblical position and a godly disposition as we train men and women for the Lord’s service.