|Ephesians 4 is an exhortation to Christians to walk worthy of the vocation to which they are called. Would some power the giftie give us, to see ourselves as others see us. How true. Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart. This is not to imply that our observations of each other are not valid, they probably are, but perhaps not tempered with mercy. The Bible says we can deceive ourselves; that we can have difficulty making abstract principles concrete. It is not enough to say the Christian is full of love or make believe that Christ does not possess the quality of love. To get down to cases, the following catalog is made according to eccentricities, or rather behavior, because mental and physical behavior have something to do with salvation The categories describe in a word how we think of ourselves, followed by a critique of what we may become.
LIBERAL - wishful thinker
Some parts of the truth of Christianity are unpalatable to him, or his friend. The 20th century man temporizes in this “enlightened” age, and he asks the question, "How about evolution?” Everybody believes it; did the whale really swallow Jonah? Do you really have to read regularly? Can people really be so bad? First thing you know, he is a humanist, pantheist, perhaps.
TRADITIONAL - idol worship
This church has been operating the same way for 100 years. It’s good enough for me. What the founders preached is gospel. He worships this state of life; this creed. The truth is never his own, but somebody else’s.
LITERARY - pseudo (dying out)
A certain style. 19th century involuted sentences; flowery prayers and gilding the lily. Literary flights of fancy never get off the ground. Be wary of our skills. Closely allied to:
SCHOLAR - dogmatist
Regarding church matters and prophecy itself, his pronouncements come to him from Mt. Sinai.
ALL THINGS TO ALL MEN - veritable chameleon
Sometimes related to liberals. Sanctimonious at services but have a drink with the boys, laugh at improper stories. Salves conscience because he must identify. Everybody has to identify with everyone else. There also must be “dialogue”, not conversation. This is ridiculous. If a man is drowning, you don’t drown with him, you save him. To be all things to all men has its dangers. You may not be willing to stand up and be counted; you are ashamed of the gospel of Christ. You seem to believe that it is possible to be a Christian without anybody knowing.
HUMBLE - falsely humble
A fawner, seeker of praise. I’m so dumb and you’re so smart. Usually found in very vain or insecure persons.
PREACHING - condescending
This change from how we view ourselves to what we can become is subtle. After a while you see in such an one something he does not see in himself. There’s an undying conviction that you need his help all the time. He preaches at you in his prayers and in his casual conversation, although allusion to you is never direct. Although not conscious of it, he considers himself superior to you.
CONCERNED - gossip
He’s very concerned with the trouble in the “Peoria” church. Brings tidings about it. All discussed at great length to nobody’s edification, but everybody’s delight. All love to hear scandal. Truth gets to be a hobby, a sort of recreation. If Peoria does not excommunicate, Jones who is divorced will be accepted in Peoria. But if we don’t find fellowship with Peoria, what action will United Peoria take? Bowling and fishing are better hobbies than these.
IMMOBILE (STATIONARY) - frightened
One so filled with “shall nots”, he is immobilized for fear of breaking a commandment. Such a person is useless to God.
CONSERVATIVE, CAREFUL - penurious (two kinds)
Obsessed with money or what it buys. His Christianity reaches everywhere except his pocketbook. Neither kind would do anything to invalidate Jesus’ prophecy that the poor will always be with us.
SPIRITUAL - lazy
So spiritual that day to day tasks or working hard to make a living is an odious thing. Others less gifted spiritually should support them.
PLAIN SPOKEN - ill tempered
Always calls a spade a spade and hurts somebody. Has a lack of forbearance for another point of view. No tongue is as deadly. Hurting words can never be recalled.
PERSECUTED - paranoid
A plentiful variety here. Put upon by friends, relatives, world. Plods along filled with self pity instead of grasping the opportunity to serve. People usually feel persecuted when they are not performing a duty which they ought to perform. Heard of an instance of one Christian who felt persecuted because he had to pay his taxes.
SEPARATED - cloistered
Outside the Christian church nothing exists. The world is a backdrop for Christians to play out their little scene. Even a contribution to AIDS is unscriptural.
UNRIGHTEOUS - good
A man who feels unrighteous is probably good. Guilt is healthy, but too much, sometimes not. Need to remember God can forgive sins.
All of the categories enumerated above are exaggerated to make a point. If you felt a sting, the purpose of this talk is served. I felt some. Christians are not looking for a homogeneous group or point of view; we need our differences. But our differences, our behavior, ought not to come from conceits and deceits. That is my point in a nutshell.
Let us take up our ministry in the fashion Paul commands:
Therefore seeing we have this ministry, as we have received mercy,
we faint not; but have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty,
not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully;
but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man's
conscience in the sight of God.
- 2Cor 4. 1, 2