PROVERBS 18:17:
The First To Plead His Cause Seems Just, Until Another Comes And Examines Him

Atlen McDonald

Did you ever wonder why we, in many instances, are willing to talk about everything in this world except what pertains to our spiritual lives? Oh, we write articles and preach and listen to sermons, but how about one on one?

We sit and listen to a preacher and what he says "seems just". However, what he is preaching is not usually "examined" by another.

Have you ever tried to talk with a preacher about a controversial problem? I have. Have you ever heard one speak with "Great Authority" on subjects such as the Treasury of the Church, or on The Church, itself? Then, have you tried to talk with him about the subject, privately? Forget challenging him publicly, enabling everyone to benefit from the examining. Such public display is not done in the Churches, any of them. Such examining would be considered uncouth and anti-social.

When you try to talk with a preacher about what he teaches, you get different responses.

A man once approached a preacher after services and questioned him on a point he had made in his sermon. The preacher said, "I don't need your advice on what I preach." Then there are the preachers who "clam up". I have actually seen them close their mouths and not even answer ... privately. This type portrays the attitude, "How dare you question me, God's anointed, God's representative."

Then there is the one who, if he talks with you at all about the controversy, will say, "That is not what I meant." Before the discussion is over he appears to agree with what you are saying ... privately. I have yet to see one who will correct his error when he next gets into the pulpit. Don't you just want to yell: "What's going on here?" What's going on is the protection of his job.

Before we leave preachers I have always thought it strange that preachers don't set up discussion groups with other preachers of the town and discuss, Biblically, the differences between themselves. I have inquired of some why they passed up what I thought was a great opportunity. The last preacher to whom I inquired about this said, "No, I never did try to evangelize in that way." From my observations, he was not alone. In reality, preachers feel safe in their pulpits, speaking with authority to people who, in general, agree with them and praise them at the door.

But wait! I'm not picking on preachers. What about "We the People"? When was the last time you approached an unbeliever and tried to discuss some aspect of God's Word? I once heard a Christian say, "I believe as long as we keep ourselves unspotted from the world, we have done our duty." So much for that attitude.

But wait, again! We are not there yet. What about plain Christian versus plain Christian discussing something about God's will. Someone once said he wanted, and yes craved, to talk with other Christians about spiritual matters. He said a "Christian" friend once let him know that they could be friends as long as religion was not brought up. Imagine that! Let's compare that attitude with physical siblings. Suppose one said to the other, "We can talk about any other subject, but don't ever bring up Dad's name. I'm sick of hearing about him." How would that make you feel? Let me suggest that to a Christian a more intense feeling would occur if he were never allowed to talk about his Heavenly Father.

Come on, folks, what is our problem? I would like to suggest a few:

1. We don't know enough about the Bible to carry on a Biblical discussion. Let us encourage each other to learn the Bible and its message to us. After all, is it not from those truths we will be judged?

2. We don't believe, deep in our hearts, that spirituality is real. It might even be an adult fairy tale. Decide for yourself! Is God real, or is He not? If you believe God is real, then get on the "bandwagon". If you do not believe God is real, then why not bail out? We cannot have it both ways, even though we might like to. Remember, God wants HOT or COLD, not lukewarm people. Someone who tries to live in both worlds is "... of all people most miserable."

3. We think we will live forever, and some day we will become real students of the Bible, and have an open channel to God through prayer. With people dying all around us, surely we know we will die, sooner or later. Possibly sooner than later!

Let us remember: we shall all be "guests of the sod" unless our Lord returns before we make our exit. If, indeed, we don't straighten up our thinking, at His coming we might find ourselves seeking the sod.

Spirituality is no fairy tale. It's real! Let us all examine our lives and see where we stand with God. When we are called before Him, individually, can you imagine His asking any of us what the preacher thought or what our mates believed. I see each of us standing before Him, alone, explaining what we believe.

I can hear you asking, "What has any of this got to do with Proverbs 18:17?" A lot! A person who desires to spend eternity with God will want to be right. He will gladly have his beliefs examined. As old brother Marshal Keeble used to say: "He will want his fruit inspected." He will crave examination. Also, because of his love for his brethren, he will want to be ready to inspect (examine) their fruit.

Do you talk about God? Are you always ready to discuss the Bible with others? Remember: "Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."