The Encourager

The Encourager

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Respecting Convictions by Robert Turner

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Many years ago I sought to correct what I believed to be a fault in a brother's life, and he responded: "I do not live with your conscience, but with my own." In effect he was saying I should respect his convictions. In this case, I did respect his convictions; i.e., I believed him to have honest convictions -- to be acting in good conscience. Because I respected his convictions, I did not expect him to change his conduct because I felt he was wrong. It was my hope that he would learn God's will more perfectly and, with this changed conviction, he would make the change in life which honesty demanded.

   "Conviction" is not truth. It is "a strong persuasion or belief". The transitive verb "convince" is: "to bring ... to belief beyond doubt". But this is wholly subjective -- it refers to what the person believes, and has no bearing whatsoever - on what God has said about the matter. We could respect one another's convictions, and both of us be in error. Divine truth is expressed in God's word (JOHN.17:17) and must be approached objectively. This external source of truth is not altered by what man believes about it.

   Sometimes folks claim to have "convictions" to escape the responsibilities of examination and Bible study. They ask you to "respect their convictions" -- meaning, cease to reprove, rebuke, and exhort (II TIM.4:2). They may even expect you to act contrary to your own convictions "lest they be offended," or, they become angry because you too have convictions, and must act accordingly, even while you respect their convictions.

   There are those who deal in "vain jangling; desiring to be teachers of the law: understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm." Paul warned Timothy about such, saying that such evidenced neither pure heart, good conscience, nor sincere faith (I TIM.1:3-7). There was no reason to "respect their convictions" nor to believe they had honest convictions. From such, turn away.

   In the final analysis, respecting one's convictions means respecting the man, treating him as a man of integrity, an honest man, of good conscience. When a man evinces a desire to know truth and serve God; when he welcomes questions and assistance in Bible study, and makes God's word - not "feelings" or popularity - his standard; when he alters his practice in keeping with his growing knowledge, we have reason to respect him.

   It is a pleasure to study with such a man, and with a little effort, we might learn something from him.


PROBLEMS                                                                                                    Steve Cawthon

   Problems facing the body of Christ are many and varied. The devil opposes us with persecutions, false doctrines, and all kinds of fleshly temptations. But one of his most successful devices is apathy - an attitude of indifference which afflicts Christians and cats away their zeal like a cancer. It is highly contagious and, if unchecked, is fatal to the souls of men and women. In many areas, it has now reached epidemic proportions.

   Indifference was the problem with the church in Laodicea. To that dead congregation, Jesus said, "I know thy works, that thou art neither cold or hot; I would that thou wert cold or hold. So, because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spew thee out of my mouth" (Rev. 3:15-16). How many churches of Christ are in that same condition today?

   Brethren, when we spend more time watching TV and playing ball than we do studying and teaching the word of God, are we not indifferent? When we find time to go to the movies and other places of entertainment, but not to visit the sick and erring, are we not indifferent? The time has come for us to wake up and get to work. Our indifference will send us to eternal hell!

Which Ones Have You Encouraged? by David Thomley

Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Lord's church is composed of both strong and weak members. Each one needs encouragement at times, but certainly the weaker brethren need a greater amount of special attention. Also, there are some members who are not necessarily weak, but who have special physical problems, causing them to need special attention. The apostle Paul taught that the responsibility of healing the weaker members rested upon the shoulders of those who were mature, full-grown Christians (Romans 15:1 & Galatians 6:1-2) In the minds of some, this type of responsibility is the work of the elders, deacons and preachers. Indeed it is; but the instruction is given to all Christians. Sometimes elders and preachers are negligent. Sometimes there is simply more work to be done than a limited number of men can accomplish. Which ones have you encouraged?

Some Members Are Forsaking the Assembling of the Saints  This sign of weakness is obvious to any mature Christian. It takes no special training or skills to make a phone call, write a note, or dropby for a short visit to say, "I've missed you." Would it be presumptuous to say almost all Christians could render service in this area?

Some Members Are Attending Without the Support (Perhaps With the Hindrance) Of Their Spouse A mother rises early on Sunday morning to prepare breakfast and dress the children to get them to Bible class; and they leave home with the father still in bed. Sometimes the fathers have the same problem, leaving the mother at home. All recognize the special problems faced by such parents, admire their effort, are are encouraged by their faithful attendance under less than ideal circumstances. Are we not obliged to reciprocate some type of encouragement to the faithful parents?

Some Members Are Experiencing Family Problems  The are parents struggling with rebellious children. There are married couples who are experiencing serious problems, perhaps resulting from an immature spiritual life. There are adults who have aging parents who are sick or confined and, demand much of their time and attention. In many cases, an encouraging word may be all that can be offered. Who offers it?

Some Members Are Facing Problems Associated with Aging The elderly and widows find it more and more difficult to do the basics, such as driving to services, shopping at the market, visiting others, etc. Many live alone, without encouragement or support of a faithful companion. Encouragement may be extended both verbally and actively

This list could go on and on, but the initial question would remain the same, namely, "Which ones have you encouraged?" As the members of a congregation consider one another, the opportunities to serve are abundant. Christians may avoid the question for the present, but one day all will stand and give an answer.



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