A Christian's Attitude Toward Other Christians
With Whom He Cannot Cooperate
by Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
(Chapter 4 from the excellent book, Jack Hyles Speaks On Biblical Separation)
Recently I was flying to a speaking engagement. The gentlemen seated beside me on the airplane looked at me and asked, "Aren't you Dr. Jack Hyles?"
I said, "Yes, I am."
He introduced himself to me as a Christian brother who was in the Lord's work full time. He was saved, and yet was aligned with a group with whom I could not align myself in cooperation. However, we had a nice conversation on the airplane. We talked about salvation, how wonderful it was to be a Christian, and many other things that we mutually shared. Now I would not have this brother in my church to speak nor would he have me in his church to speak. There is no way that I could cooperate with him in an endeavor that would cause us to yoke up together, but that did not mean I was unkind to him. That did not mean that I doubted his salvation, and that did not mean that we could not spend a few minutes rejoicing in our common salvation.
Recently I was in a clothing store. A former member of First Baptist Church who is now leading a compromising life was there. I went to that member, talked with him and we enjoyed being together for a few minutes. We have some common experiences and memories that we relived and shared. For about fifteen minutes we talked and laughed and reminisced. Now this does not mean that I would invite this member living in a position of compromise over to my house for an evening, nor does it mean that I would cooperate with him in some kind of an endeavor.
Not long ago I crossed the path of a husband and wife who have drifted far from God and His purpose for their lives. They are saved but backslidden. I chatted with them courteously and kindly and then passed on. I did not have to choose between yoking up with them in some endeavor which involved my compromising and being rude to them. The Bible is plain concerning how we are to behave toward believers as far as our manner toward them is concerned. Following are some of the attitudes that we are to have toward all believers:
1. We are to love each other. I John 3:14, 15, "We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that loveth not his brother abideth in death. Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him." Romans 12:9, 10; "Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another." Ephesians 4:15, "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, Which is the head, even Christ."
2. We are not to hate a Christian brother. I John 2:9, "He that saith he is in the light, and hateth his brother, is in darkness even until now."
3. We are not to count a Christian brother as an enemy. II Thessalonians 3:14, 15, "And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother."
4. We are to edify our Christian brother. Romans 14:19, "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another."
5. We are not to have bitterness, wrath, anger, malice or evil speaking toward our Christian brother. Ephesians 4:30, 31, "And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, Whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put way from you, with all malice."
6. We are to be kindly affectioned toward our Christian brother. Romans 12:10, "Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another."
7. We are to offer forbearance to those in the body of Christ. Ephesians 4:2, "With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love."
8. We are to respond to their evil with good. Romans 12:21, "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."
9. We are not to sow discord among Christian brethren. Proverbs 6:16,19, "These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto Him . . . a false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren."
10. We are not to cause our Christian brother to stumble. Romans 14:10-13, 21, "But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."
11. We should do all we can to restore a Christian brother o has erred. Galatians 6:1, "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted."
12. We should warn a Christian brother concerning unruly behavior. I Thessalonians 5:14, "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men."
13. We are to do our best to strengthen our Christian brother. Romans 14:1, "Him that is weak in the faith receive ye, but not to doubtful disputations." Romans 15:1-3, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves. Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification. For even Christ pleased not Himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me."
14. When our Christian brother does err, we are to speak the truth to him, but we are to do it in love. Ephesians 4:15, "But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, Which is the head, even Christ."
15. We must always realize the possibility of our stumbling. Galatians 1:7-9, "Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed." Notice the Apostle Paul entertains the possibility that someday he could come and preach the wrong doctrine. This, no doubt, prevented him from thinking too highly of himself. Romans 12:3, "For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith." He always entertained the possibility that he could also fall. I Corinthians 10:12, "Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
16. We should give extra care in our attitudes toward pastors who are saved and are God's men. They who rule well are to be counted worthy of double honor. I Timothy 5:17, "Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."
We are not to lift our hands against God's anointed. I Samuel 26:9, "And David said to Abishai, Destroy him not: for who can stretch forth his hand against the Lord's anointed, and be guiltless?" I Chronicles 16:22, "Saying, Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm." Psalm 105:15, "Saying, Touch not Mine anointed, and do My prophets no harm."
We are to take extra care in our treatment toward God's men. I Timothy 5:1, "Rebuke not an elder, but entreat him as a father; and the younger men as brethren." I Timothy 5:19, 20, "Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear."
There are many other attitudes and manners of behavior that we are supposed to have for God's people. This does not mean, however, that it is always proper to yoke up with the people of God in some kind of Christian endeavor. Romans 16:17, "Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them." I Timothy 1:19, 20, "Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck: of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme." Philippians 3:17-19, "Brethren, be followers together of me, and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample. (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ." There are Christian students in Christian schools to whom our children should be friendly and courteous and kind but with whom they should not have their social lives interwoven. There are Christian young men that should not be dated by spiritual young ladies. This does not mean that they should be looked down upon or mistreated; it simply means that there are some Christians whose lives must cause us not to enter into close contact or social interaction with them.
There are preachers who are saved men but who belong to compromising denominations and who support schools that lean toward infidelity. It is not wrong for us to be kind to these preachers and even to feel kindly toward them. It is unwise, however, for us to choose them for places of leadership or places of honor or have them speak in our churches.
I traveled with such an one recently. He believes the Bible, he is saved and was on the same airplane with me. He changed his seat, came up and sat beside me, and I was pleased that he did. I did not scold him for his relationships and affiliations. He already knew how I felt about that. I felt kindly and brotherly toward him and enjoyed being with him, just as I did with the brother mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. He is my brother in Christ, and though I cannot endorse him nor speak for him or have him speak for me, I nevertheless felt kindly toward him and realized that we are brothers in the same family. There seems to be an attitude that I either have to slander him or cooperate with him. What is wrong with doing neither? What is wrong with being courteous and nice to him, loving him and having forbearance toward him just as I am commanded, and at the same time realizing that he is not in a position spiritually but is in a position ecclesiastically that would keep me from wanting him to speak for me or wanting to enter into some spiritual endeavor with him. He has chosen the crowd with whom he wants to run. I have chosen the crowd, according to the Scriptures as I see them, with whom I want to run. If I entered into some joint endeavor with him, we would have occasion to be tempted to be unchristian toward each other I can be a better Christian if I am nice and courteous to him at a distance rather than being tempted to discourtesy up close. By at a distance," I mean avoiding joint endeavors, etc.
Whether we believe it or not, we all as Christians practice this type of separation. The wise parent says to a daughter, "I know the young man is a Christian, but he is not living right and I don't want you to go with him." The wise parents say to a son, I know she is saved, but she is not the kind of young lady that we want you to date." A wife may say to a husband, "I know the fellows at the job are saved, but I wish you would not associate with them; they are doing questionable things Wise parents who have children in Christian schools will say to them, "Now you be nice to everybody at school, but there are some of the Christian young people that are doing wrong things and I don't want you to be close to them You be courteous and nice but don t you socialize with them Now you can call this secondary separation or anything you want to call it It is just something that all spiritual Christians practice.
Without malice, bitterness, wrath or clamoring, we choose for ourselves and for our loved ones those particular Christians who are spiritual with whom we want to fellowship and with whom we want our loved ones to fellowship.
If the unseparated Christians will let us, we will help them If they want us to, we will restore them If they seek it, we will forgive them but until they are restored and have proven themselves, we refrain from social intimacies and cooperative endeavors. We all practice this form of secondary separation We don't want our children running with the wrong crowd of Christians. We don't want our children running with Christian young people that run with the unsaved We exhort them to be nice, yes; to be kind, courteous and forgiving of course, and yet not to run with them as good, close friends Now if this be true for our young people, why wouldn't it be true for Mom and Dad? Perhaps parents should not make their close friends and associations with those who run with the unsaved Then why shouldn't it be true also for a preacher? Perhaps a preacher would be wise to be careful not to run with other preachers who run with the unsaved A preacher can be courteous to them and even thank God for the measure of faithfulness they have to the Word of God and even rejoice with them in their salvation, but if contact with them puts him in a position to be tempted to violate the Biblical laws of separation, he might be wise to take extra care. One does not have to choose between running with the wrong crowd and being intimately associated with believers who are running with the wrong crowd and being courteous and kind with all the body of Christ.
When our girls were teenagers I did not feel unkind toward the boys whom I would not let them date There were simply some Christian boys whom I felt they should not date. This did not mean I hated them nor wrote articles against them nor slandered them. It just meant that my daughters could not go with them.
When our son, David, was a teenager, there were some Christian girls whom he could not date. Some of these attended First Baptist Church. I was their pastor, I loved them and I was happy to be their pastor; I simply felt that their Christian lives were not such as I wanted my son to date them. There were young ladies in Hammond Baptist High School that I did not want him to date, and there were young ladies in Hyles-Anderson College that I did not want him to date. I loved them, taught them, trained them, prayed for them, strengthened them, encouraged them, and even accepted the fact that someday they could be restored to a place where David could go with them. They had done nothing to cause them to be expelled from school, but they had not done enough to cause them to be the kind of young lady that I wanted Dave to date and eventually marry.
There are carnal adults, preachers, and members of First Baptist Church with whom I would not suggest spiritual folks become intimately associated Yet I love them and am doing my best to restore them to the position of spirituality they once knew While awaiting that time, I am going to continue to love them. I am not going to slander them. I am going to encourage my people to be courteous, kind and gracious toward them. I am simply not going to suggest that my spiritual people get so interwoven with them that they too will become carnal.
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