Our Testimony, His Reputation
We don’t want to lose a good testimony in the sight of somebody who has conscience on the matter.
Alright, thank you very much and hello again, dear radio friend. How in the world are you? Are you doing all right? Oh, I trust that things are going well at your house and I want you to know that every time I begin or before I begin a broadcast I bow to ask that God, the Holy Spirit will choose my words in such a way that they will fit some special need of yours. Oh, may God grant that today. That is the real satisfaction of this broadcast ministry. It is to know that God the Holy Spirit, takes some words, some human word and makes it fit somebody’s need as we share from the word of God. You pray in that direction, will you?
You and I have been looking at Romans chapter 14 “Why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother,” this is verse 10, “for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.” The last time we got together, I talked with you about getting ready for the judgment. Make sure you’re saved, make sure your attitude toward Christ is that of being your Lord, and make sure that you do what you do for eternity for His glory, not just for the temporary advantage of the moment.
He says, “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” That can be a very painful business as you know if you’ve ever been audited either by an outside auditor or by the internal revenue service or whatever where you have to give an account. What did you do with the money? I remember when I first became President of Youth for Christ back in 1948, I called Mr. Smoot, our auditor, and I said, “Now, it seems to me that there are certain points of slippage in the system that we have and I want you, as a special project,” I said to him, “I want you to set up a system that is so foolproof that no one will ever be able to ask where did the money come from or where did it go. I want that system even though it may be cumbersome, I want it to be so clear and so foolproof that there will never be any question as to the integrity of this financial operation.”
Well, he did. Sometimes the people who had to operate it growled a little because there were extra motions through which they had to go but I’ll guarantee you that from that time on, nobody ever asked “What have you done with the money?” If they did, they got an answer so quickly and so clearly that there was never any question about it. Huh! Give account? Oh. I learned it the hard way. I remember back in high school days when I was cook and bottle washer for my father. The two of us lived together.
My sister had gone off to school. My mother had gone on to glory when I was less than a year and a half old. And so, the two of us, my father and I were occupying what was then called a light housekeeping room. Do any of you remember that old fashioned term? They call them “efficiencies” now. That’s a nicer term, isn’t it? But it was a one-room set up where there was a bed, a stove, a sink, a kitchen table, a cabinet, some chairs, a bookcase. That was home sweet home for me during high school years. And I recall that my father would give me, on pay day, some money and he’d say, “Okay, boy, you have to cook for us so you buy the groceries.” I don’t know how the dear man lived.
When I first started out it was mostly canned goods. I was a good cook but we had the noisiest garbage in the block. You know that wisecrack. Poor man, he lived on canned goods and starches, I think, but we survived it and did all right and I learned my way around a cook stove reasonably well.
One evening, he said to me, “My boy, I want you to learn to keep accounts.” He said, “I want you to keep an account of what you spend from the money that I give you week by week.” I said, “Okay, Pop, that’s all right.” And so he said, “Well, I’m going to ask you for an accounting by and by and you show me what you’ve done.” Well, I didn’t have the foggiest notion at that point as to how to set up any kind of a record, credit and debit and so on. I wasn’t even as knowledgeable as the old man who used to look in his middle drawer and see the card there which said “Wall side, credit; window side, debit.” You remember him? I didn’t even know that much.
Well, the days went by and I kept putting off starting this process because I didn’t really know how to get at it and, well, I just put it off. One evening he said to me, “Boy, I want to see your records. It’s time now that we take a look at them.” “Oh,” I said, “Pop, you can’t just say that. I’m not really ready. I have to get the thing straightened out. You have to give me a day or so.” Well, the fact was I didn’t have anything. What I did then was to go to the corner store and get a little nickel notebook and try, try somehow to remember what I had done with the money that he had given me during the last couple of weeks.
Well, I could remember that I bought some notebook paper, so I put down “notebook paper; 10 cents.” I could remember, too, that on the way home from high school one day, I’d bought a bag of popcorn, so I put down “popcorn; 15 cents.” And I could remember, too, that because I was interested in mechanical things, I had bought some tools of one sort and another and so I put that down, “wrenches; $2.39.” And I didn’t know what I had done with the rest. And so, I put down, “miscellaneous $35.23.”
Well, he said, “All right, let me see your records.” Then I brought this pitiful little notebook to him. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or to give me a spanking. Well, I was pretty big at that point so I was beyond the spanking age. And he gave me a good scolding and told me that he wanted me to learn to be a good record keeper rather than something pitiful like that and he really told me. I remember that across the years.
“So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” And one of these days, the Lord is going to ask you and ask me, “What did you do with the talents and with the abilities and with the opportunities and with the friendships and with the life that I gave you? Show me now what did you do with it? You and I may very well have to bring out our poor little nickel notebook and say, “Well, God, here’s a few items. I did this for myself and I did that for myself and I did the other for myself and the rest is miscellaneous.”
Oh, dear friend, I can’t impress upon our hearts too strongly the fact that what we do needs to be the kind of thing that will count for eternity. Instead of being lost under some heavenly heading of “miscellaneous.” “So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.” Now, he says “Let’s not judge one another anymore.” Does that mean you don’t do any judging? Oh, no. He said “Judge this rather.” If you’re going to do any judging, judge this “that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
Years ago I had a church member who was having a dreadful time with stopping smoking of cigarettes. He wanted to but he just couldn’t make it. And I was talking with him one day. I said, “Cecil why don’t you just stop smoking? You know that it’s ruining your health and you feel guilty about it. Why don’t you trust the Lord to help you stop?” Well, he was a little defensive at that point and he said, “Pastor,” he says, “you drink coffee all the time. That’s just as bad. That’s a habit with you just like this habit is with me.”
Well, he knew that I like coffee; I still do. But I said, “Well, Cecil if that’s the problem,” I said, “I’ll stop.” And you know I stopped drinking coffee for, I don’t know, how many weeks. And finally, we gave up the contest. And thankfully, the Lord dealt with his heart and delivered him, quite apart from my coffee demonstration. And he was happily delivered. But I remember that as an illustration of what Paul is saying here. If my coffee drinking were an offense to my friend and church member Cecil then I better do something about it. It wasn’t sinful for me. It wasn’t hurting me any as far as I could tell but if it was an offense then I better do something about it.
We tried to operate on that basis here at the college. Some of our rules are arbitrary from the point of view of an outsider. And they say, “Why you can’t defend that rule. How can you defend that rule?” Why, you could argue about that and of course the answer is, “Why, of course, you could argue about it.” But if you want to argue about it, you’ll have to do so from outside because this is how we view it and we view some of our rules of conduct from the simple point of view that we don’t want to give offense to anybody who has a conscience on the matter, you see?
That’s really why we do it. We don’t want to give offense. We don’t want to lose a good testimony in the sight of somebody who has conscience on the matter. And so, we adjust our behavior not because we have to but because we want to protect the impact we have under God on other people’s lives. He said, “Judge this rather, that nobody put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
A man said to me one time, “Pray for my wife. She’s an alcoholic.” “Oh,” I said, “that’s a pity. How did that occur?” He said, “Before I was saved,” he said, “I used to drink some and she didn’t really care for it but just to please me, she began to have a drink and she discovered that this had a tremendous hold upon her. And before I knew it, I found that’s as a solitary drinker, she was consuming large quantities of liquor. And day after day I would come home and find her either unconscious or severely intoxicated because I taught her to drink.”
That’s pretty sad, isn’t it? Well, this is a drastic, you may say, a drastic example of what Paul is talking about. Don’t, that is, dear friend, don’t ever do something that is going to draw another person away from your Lord either by your example or by introducing them to a practice which may enslave them as in the case of this lady who learned to drink to accommodate her husband’s habits. Yes, afterwards, he found the Lord and was gloriously saved but the damage was done. And it was a very sad thing to see. So, there you are, friend. Don’t put the stumbling block in somebody else’s way.
If you’re going to judge anything, judge that, says Paul. Oh, I want to be careful, don’t you? Let’s you and I pray for each other that we may be careful in our relationships with others not to stumble them but to encourage them. Let this be our rule that whenever we touch another’s life, we leave him or her better off, happier in the Lord, closer to Jesus, Amen?
Dear Father, today, keep us from stumbling or hurting or discouraging anybody. Help us to encourage people to walk with the Lord, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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