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Volume 33 - Page 142 of 253 Index | Zoom | |
Separate Features: Refined Courtesy.
pp. 67 - 69
"Here we see . . . . . that refined courtesy which cannot bring itself to blame till it has
first praised, and which makes him deem it needful almost to apologize for the freedom
of giving advice to those who were not personally known to him." (Conybeare and
We have all met the man who boasts that he is "John Blunt", but we have usually
found that he has a "sharp" tongue. To "call a spade a spade" might appear to be the
essence of frankness. It may however be the essence of grace to remember that "pity"
enters into the attitude of the heavenly Father to His children; a remembrance of natural
frailty and a desire so to administer needful correction that it shall contribute to the
upbuilding rather than the overthrowing of the believer.
One of the first reasons why we should never speak with untempered censure is that,
in the very nature of the case, we can never know all the facts or all the circumstances.
Perhaps the proverbs, "To know all is to forgive all", errs too much on the side of
leniency, but if we would serve our brethren a recognition of the principle involved must
ever be ours. Again, what is so cheap as "advice". On every hand there are those who
will tell one what one "ought to do", but in most cases, such unsought and freely-offered
advice is of little value. Advice that is real and helpful must usually be sought, and must
often be paid for. Now the Apostle, as the representative of Christ, might appear to be
exempt from these limitations. Surely where censure is merited, Paul can give it without
mitigation or preface! Surely, we might say that where Paul had the right to command,
he would not apologize for advising! So we lesser folk might reason, but not so those
most taught by grace. God Himself respects the image after which man was created.
Sinful though man is, yet, so far as circumstances permit, he is a free moral agent. In the
gospel of His grace, God Himself wooes, pleads, invites. He Who is Lord of all says,
"Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man open . . . . ." and His ministers are
more like Him when they "minister and are not ministered unto".
Chapter after chapter in the first epistle to the Corinthians is devoted to rebuke and
censure, for the Corinthians were divided, were partisan, were carnal, were immoral,
were enslaved by unholy bonds, or boasting in unholy freedom, yet in spite of all this,
the Apostle opens his epistle with the words, "I thank my God always on your behalf, for
the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 1: 4). This is followed by a
long series of rebukes. Again, in I Cor. 11: 2, we read, "Now I praise you, brethren",
but in verse 17 he follows on by saying, "Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you
not". And again, in verse 22, "What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you in this? I
praise you not".
In the same epistle the Apostle's advice is sought on the question of marriage. Instead
of laying down a law, he spends a long time in looking at the matter from various angles,