Fair, Not Partial
It's the little unfairnesses, oftentimes, that cuts the effectiveness of our ministries.
Alright. Thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, that greeting establishes the fact, that this is indeed your friend, Bob Cook, and I’m back with you and the Word of God, just to try to put a handle on it, so that you can get hold of something, just for yourself. My daily prayer is that God will put His love in my voice, and His Truth in what I say, and that there will be something especially helpful to you. You know, the blessed Holy Spirit of God can do that. You know, of course, I guess, that these broadcasts are prepared well in advance of the day on which you hear them. That has to be, because we have to get the program around to all the different stations. Because that’s so, how can I anticipate what’s going to happen on any given day? Only the Holy Spirit of God can put His special custom-built Truth into the message, just for you, and that’s what I pray for every day.
Well, look with me then, at 1st Timothy 5:21-23. Here are some principles that Paul is giving to Timothy, as an overall guide for his ministry. He said, “I charge thee, that thou observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” That’s the first thing, be fair. Bible truth is important, but it’s so ordinary, isn’t it? Imagine Paul, the greatest intellect of all of New Testament times, in probable truth… I suppose you might argue differently, but my opinion, at least, is that the Apostle Paul was the greatest intellect of all of the New Testament writers. Great, brainy, capable, well-trained man, who, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, gave us such a large portion of the New Testament. And here is this man saying, “Remember, be fair.”
It is the little unfairnesses, oftentimes, that cut the effectiveness of our ministry. We’ll get back to that in a minute. I wanna go down the list of these though. First of all, be fair. Second, be proper, proper spiritual procedure, “Lay hands suddenly on no man.” Now, that verb ‘lay hands on’ is used in the New Testament, as meaning ‘to ordain, to ordain or to set apart for spiritual service.’ The other verb ‘they laid hands on him,’ in terms of ‘attack,’ that’s a different verb, so this actually means ‘you use proper procedure.’ The real way to do it, is shown us in Acts 13:3, “When they had prayed, and fasted, then they laid their hands on them, and set them apart for the work.” Prayer, fasting and then the laying on of hands. Well, that’s that point. Be fair, be proper, and then be separate. “Neither be partakers of other men’s sins.” A holy, wholesome separation, not a holier than thou attitude, but a life that is separate unto God.
Then he said, “Keep thyself pure.” Personal holiness, personal holiness. And finally, he says, “Drink no longer water only, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities.” And I’m gonna take a different tact. Instead of arguing about drinking, I’m going to use this verse, as what I think it really stands for, “Take care of your body.” Take care of your body. Now, there are five rules. Be fair, use proper spiritual procedure, be separate and holy, personal holiness, and take care of your body.
That’s what we’re gonna talk about for a while, alright? [chuckle] Oh, I enjoy these times with you. Do you know that? I really do. It’s so great to look into the Word of God, and then talk with you about it, and realize that the Spirit of God may be taking some word that is uttered, and using it to bless somebody many miles away. I thank God for the privilege of being with you on these broadcasts.
Alright, let’s look at the verse. He says, “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels.” You remember, we talked about all of that? God’s Sovereign authority, the Lord Jesus Christ, our Lord, the elect angels, spectators and supporters, ministering spirits. You have quite an audience, brothers and sisters. You have quite an audience in all of your life. You’re always on stage for that audience: God the Father, God the Son, the Holy Spirit of God dwelling within you, and the angels looking on. You’re always on stage. He said, “These are the things that you wanna remember, because you are on stage.” What are they? Well, he said, “Be fair. Observe these things without preferring one before another, doing nothing by partiality.” Be fair, don’t be partial.
Now, the Bible’s very clear on all these things, God is the God of fairness, “That ye may be the children of your Father, which is in Heaven.” Jesus said, “For He maketh His Son to rise on the evil, and on the good, and sendeth in rain on the just, and on the unjust. Peter said, “Of a truth I perceive, that God is no respecter of persons.” Paul said in Romans 10, “There’s no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord over all, is rich unto all, that call upon Him.” That’s how God operates. And you and I are to do the same thing. Partiality is forbidden. This is Leviticus 19, “Ye shall do no unrighteousness in judgment. Thou shalt not respect the person of the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty, but in righteousness, shalt thou judge thy neighbor.” Job 13, “He will surely reprove you, if you do secretly accept persons.” Malachi 2, “Therefore, have I also made you contemptible and base before all the people, according as ye have not kept My ways, but have been partial in the law.” James 2, “Are ye not, then become partial in yourselves, and are become judges of evil thoughts?” There’s just a few verses there, that have to do with this whole concept.
Now, you’re under pressure, especially the minister, the evangelists, the missionary, the Christian worker. Anybody that’s in public work at all, is constantly under pressure along this line. Somebody is very poor, are you going to make allowances for that in matters of principle? Somebody is very rich, are you going to wink at some violation of scriptural rules? You don’t want to offend your best donor. [chuckle] I lost a good… This was in my salad days, when I was still at Wheaton College and I was pastoring a little church in Glen Ellyn. There was a man there, who used to give with great ostentation, a $10 bill every Sunday in the Sunday School offering. He gave it when he took up the birthday offering. He would put a $10 bill in the birthday offering, that was his way.
Well, I don’t remember the circumstances any more. This would’ve been 50 years ago now, or more. So I don’t remember the circumstances, but I do remember that something I said in a sermon, applying the Truth of God, struck home to this man, and he got so offended, that he never again gave a dime, and soon after, left the church. I don’t think it was my fault, as I recall. I think I was just trying to preach the Truth, but there you are.
What are you gonna do? Be careful not to offend the rich, because they’re giving? Be careful not to offend the poor, because it could put you in a bad light? Excuse somebody, because there are some advantages attached to getting along at that point? You’re under pressure, and pastor, if the deacon or, even worse, the deacon’s wife gets upset with you, you are going to be under pressure to modify your conduct, or your attitude, or your position, or all of the above, aren’t you? So what are you gonna do?
Well, the first thing is, you better be careful about what you say and do, so you don’t have to be the victim of the foot-in-mouth disease. Open mouth, insert foot. Paul says, “Herein, do I exercise myself to have always a conscience, void of offense toward God and toward men.” Paul says, “We want to be careful, lest we give any offense and the ministry be blamed.” Do you remember that? “Your job and mine, giving no offense in anything, that the ministry be not blamed,” 2nd Corinthians 6, verse 3. Just turn to it. Your job and mine, first, is not to adapt, but to be right.
The question is not, “What is convenient or what will work best?” The question is, “What’s right?” You’ll find that’s very helpful, pastor, in running committee meetings, deacon’s meetings, trustees meetings, committee meetings, you don’t always run them, but you’re present at them. And you’ll find that that’s a very helpful concept, if you’ll just remind people, that the thing to settle is not, “How can we get out of this? How can we adapt? What is convenient? What will work? What will get this person or situation off our backs?”
These are not the questions. The number one question is, “What’s right?” And you’ll find out what’s right. “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” Get on your knees. How often, in my lifetime, thank God, I’ve been able to call a prayer meeting, right in the middle of some council meeting, or trustee meeting, or deacon’s meeting. I’ve said, “Let’s pray, fellas. Let’s get on our knees and seek God for this.” You’d be surprised what God will say, when you ask Him for guidance. Don’t ask, “How can I get out of this?” Ask, “What’s the right thing to do?” And then stick to it. Good idea? Yeah.
Your first concern, personally, is to make sure that you don’t offend. Bob Pierce, who is now with the Lord several years, said one day, when he was preaching at Winona Lake, Indiana, he said, “You have begun to grow up a little, when you learn to ask, before you do or say anything, ‘How will this affect my ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ?’ You begin to grow up a little, when you learn to ask that, before you jump into something, before you open your mouth to speak, before you make a decision, before you enter into a relationship, say ‘How will this affect my ministry for the Lord Jesus Christ?’ ” “Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as for the Lord, and not just for people, knowing that of the Lord, ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ.” This is what Paul said in Colossians 3. You wanna put that to work today, beloved? First of all, watch out for your own life, that you don’t offend, and then ask, “What’s right?” And stick to it. Be fair. Well, we’ll take the rest of this the next time we get together.
Father God, today, make us fair and make us right in Thy sight, in Jesus’ name, I ask. Amen.
Till I meet you, once again, by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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