“God will make their names break forth as the light”

Posted by Rural Missourian on Jul 19th, 2008

When I first came into the ministry many years ago a good brother and fellow pastor in the Lord, who oversaw and helped me in the early days of pastoring, gave my wife and I excellent counsel, which has proved immensely helpful. Among the many things he shared there were two that stood out.

First, he said that sometimes those whom you help and risk the most for will hurt you the most later. My wife and I have learned this painful lesson more than once and likely will for years to come, as it is one of the unavoidable hazards of the ministry. It’s a risk for anyone who makes themselves vulnerable in helping people in need. The Apostle Paul surely had his share of painful experiences. “Be diligent to come to me quickly; for Demas has forsaken me, having loved this present world, and has departed for Thessalonica—Crescens for Galatia, Titus for Dalmatia” (2 Tim. 4:9-10). I believe this also one of the reasons that some eventually leave the work of the ministry in seeking to distance themselves from the pain and frustration that comes from betrayal.

Second, he said that no matter what you say or do slander will eventually come and the temptation will be great to spend hours in angst trying to defend your name and honor, a futile effort and tremendous waste of time. His advise to us: “Do not waste one minute seeking to clear your name with those that slander you for it is better a man meet a bear robbed of her cubs, rather than a fool in his folly” (Pro. 17:12). The more one tries to clear their name, the worse it gets, like sinking into quicksand.

This advice has proved quite valuable. I also greatly appreciate the sage council of Jeremiah Burroughs, a well-known Puritan preacher of the 1600’s, who came under all kinds of suspicion (from “bad reports” . . . slander) back in the “good old days” of the Great Reformation, Let not men therefore who are of public use, having their consciences clear, yet because they under suspicion, throw off all in anger. Such a temptation many lie under, but let them know this temptation cannot prevail but upon the distemper of their hearts, the exceedingly sinful forwardness of their spirits. They should trust God with their names, their esteem, and their honor, and go on in their work. The only way to deliver themselves from suspicion is their constant industry and faithfulness in all opportunities of service which God puts into their hands, and the more quietness of spirit and the less noise they go on with, the sooner will the suspicions they were under wash off and vanish to nothing. God will make their names break forth as the light. Those weeds, having no ground to take root, will wither and die away. This gem comes from an excellent book by Burroughs, Irenicum, Healing the Divisions Among God’s People, which I highly recommend.

Burroughs’ counsel is truly sound, as it is biblically proactive in preaching and living out the Gospel, which glorifies Christ, and not reactive, which leads to nowhere and glorifies no one. We must learn to extinguish the nagging fear that as the slander continues and goes unanswered the less likely one will ever recover from it. What hurts the most, however, is the slander made against one’s family and congregation. Even though we were warned by the Apostle Paul that persecution would come, Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution (2 Tim. 3:12), it’s hard to believe that any blessing will come of it, especially when one is aware of their own sin and weaknesses, as though we deserve the slander. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake (Mat. 5:11). I believe the blessings come when we truly surrender our name, esteem, and honor to the Lord and leave them in His hands, something that I am slowly learning to do, which comes with great peace. Though the thought occasionally crosses one’s mind to move to the remote regions of Australia’s Outback to live a quite life of a mule farmer, it is, nonetheless, always right to stay under the humbling hand of God where He has you, no matter how painful or difficult. One is nowhere safer than in the middle of the will of God.

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you. Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you. To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. (1 Peter 5:6-11)

One last observation: in the spiritual battle we are all called to fight we are told by the Apostle Paul to take up the shield of faith to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. I think many of us primarily think of these darts as those aimed directly at us, but we also must learn to extinguish those slanderous darts aimed at others that come to our ears, less we receive them and thereby be poisoned against them. The words of a talebearer are like tasty trifles, And they go down into the inmost body (Pro. 26:22). We must never think that we are exempt from the warnings of God’s word, as though we can eat the tasty treats of a talebearer and be unaffected by its poison. — The Rural Missourian

3 Responses

  1. Lynn Says:

    Thanks so much for this post. My husband Jim is running for State Senate in our district, and it has been tough for me to hear the negative comments that some people have thrown at us. These Scriptures are just what I needed.

  2. Jim Ketchum Says:

    Greetings all,

    The real test of Christian character is in what way we respond to the numerous slanders that fly not only from the mouths of the pagans surrounding us, but also from professed ‘Christian’ brethren.

    Some take up the cause of the pagans they yoke themselves to for their own gain, others because they truly have not received the Gospel of Christ as the rule of their lives.

    A good post, Pastor Tom. Keep being the instrument of humility the LORD uses to break and refine His people!

    Jim K.

  3. Jim Ketchum Says:

    Pastor Tom,

    One of my old sayings that you have heard me use came to mind after an incident which occurred from my previous posting on this thread. The saying goes:

    “When you throw a rock into a pack of dogs, the one that yelps the loudest is the one you hit.”

    While not Biblical in the strict sense, it does express the intent of those who seek to avoid dealing with issues in a Biblical way, as much as they say to the contrary that that is how they are handling matters. It seems far easier for people to run and hide, and fling arrows at those who are not pursuing them for their sins, which they seek to cover in their self righteousness. There are none of us who have not done the same. Adam taught us well on how to not reply to the LORD when confronted over our rebellion.

    He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy. Proverbs 28:13

    Jim K.

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