“Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy.” (Proverbs 27:6, ESV)
This particular Proverb has held a unique place in my heart, as it yearns within me to be more honest with myself, my wife, my family, my friends…with anyone really. However, today, after listening in on a conversation between some friends of mine (I was included, however, due to circumstances, I could not really participate), this kind of takes on a new meaning to me. It’s not a new meaning at all, really. This verse, in all reality, before it encourages me to do what I have mentioned above, is about the Christian and his or her relationship with their neighbors.
In Matthew 22, Jesus was asked, “which is the great commandment in the Law?” (v.36). And here is His response:
“And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” (Matthew 22:37–40, ESV)
Proverbs 27:6 falls under that part of this, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” A major point in this is unity. Unity amongst one’s family. Unity amongst the church. But, most importantly here, unity amongst believers with the aim to see His kingdom reach all of those around us.
Now, I am not going to go into any details, as I do not want to betray a confidence. However, I am going to talk about unity, and disunity.
- All Christian have (and should know) the same, common goal: The Worship of God. We need to worship God and God wants us to be used to share the Gospel, thus, Lord willing, bringing more into the class to worship God. (Matthew 22:37, Matthew 28:16-20). As we can find in the Westminster Shorter Catechism, it begins as such: Question 1: What is the chief end of man? Answer 1: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, (1 Cor. 10:31, Rom. 11:36) and to enjoy him forever. (Ps. 73:25-28).
- No two people in this world are ever going to agree on all the same things 100%, regardless of what they are (religious, philosophical, etc.). If you find me a person, man or woman, who says they have found someone who believes in everything they believe in 100%, I’ll show you a person that is looking at themselves in the mirror as they say that.
With that being said, disunity happens in so many ways, and one of them is slander and gossip at the result of two people or groups not agreeing 100% on certain things. When the disagreement become apparent, one group gets upset at the other, and things are said, statements are made, and they cannot be taken back. The damage is done. It’s okay to disagree on things. For example, reformed Baptists and Presbyterians (uh oh! I’m bringing up the Baptism debate!) have a HUGE disagreement on Credobaptism (Believer’s baptism) versus Paedobaptism (infant baptism). (If you want to know more about this, google it, as I am not going to start a discussion on just that). Baptists and Presbyterians disagree on the sign and seal of the covenant and how it is administered. However, it is not a salvific issue, i.e. someone can be saved and not get baptized. I have seen numerous debates online regarding this, always with a messy outcome. Despite these differences, Baptists and Presbyterians work together on the mission fields, in the local churches and their surrounding communities. The common goal the have is to see people be saved by God through His grace. For worship. And they strive together.
So, when issues such as this come up and cause division, it is not a God-made divisiveness. “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,” (1 Corinthians 14:33, ESV). The new Christian Standard Bible reads, “since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.” (1 Cor. 14:33, CSB).
So, it saddens my heart and drives me to prayer when I see this happen over a disagreement. People aren’t maturing about things like this anymore as they grow older in age. Instead of walking over (or calling) the other person, they made light of the situation in a manner that does not reflect the Glory due to God the Father. It causes pain to see a brother in Christ weep over a lost friendship and ministry opportunities.
So, what to do? First, we need to check our pride at the door. As Christians, once we bring our pride into it, as soon as pride rears its ugly head, we just pushed God out of the way and put the religion of self in His rightful place in our lives. Secondly, we need to be like the Bereans were in Acts 17: “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” (Acts 17:11, ESV). And what happened as they heard new things? They opened their Scriptures to see if Paul and Silas were right. And they were. And God changed their hearts and, “Many of them therefore believed,…” (Acts 17:12a). Where they could have let personal differences, or something, keep them from being ministered to, they instead did what we are called to do by their example: Pull out the Bible, God’s Holy Word, and see what it says. The Bible is our standard and should shape our thought processes. So, when we disagree with someone about a theological/doctrinal matter, the best thing we can do is God the Word of God and see what He tells us. For we must remember that, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16–17, ESV).
In the meantime, what am I going to do? Pray. I am going to pray for all those involved, as well as those reading this post who may need help with unity. I implore you to read the Bible each and every day that you may grow in Christ and NOT in self.
-Soli Deo Gloria