Aug

17

2013

Ray Ortlund|10:44 AM CT

Are we doing the Lord’s work?

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them.  Isaiah 11:6

But if you bite and devour one another, watch out that you are not consumed by one another.  Galatians 5:15

Yesterday I saw yet another website dedicated to accusing a prominent pastor.  This one did not strike me as savage, the way other such websites have.  It seemed more mature.

But I wonder if this is doing the Lord’s work at all.  Even if every accusation against this pastor is true, I am unconvinced God wants us to set up websites for such a purpose.  There are predatory pastors out there.  They should be removed by their churches, with great sadness, through due process.  But what I rarely see in people who are busy accusing another is an awareness that they themselves can complicate the problem.  I know that just my saying that will frustrate some.  I sincerely regret that.  They will point out, of course, that they are standing up for innocent victims.  They feel deeply that they are serving the cause of justice.  And they might be.  But it might not be that simple.  Even if their accusations are valid, it doesn’t take much for accusers to become attackers — attacking an attacker.  Indeed, the more energized we become, the more difficult it is to see this danger in ourselves.

Here are three simple cautions:

1.  If my only emotion toward a wrongdoer is rage, and I feel no desire for his or her redemption, I might need to step back and examine myself.  Looking out over the city of Jerusalem, knowing the judgment they would suffer, Jesus didn’t gloat; he wept (Luke 19:41-44).  Surely, there should be more tears among us.

2.  If biblical warnings — for example, against confronting a wrong wrongly (1 Corinthians 6:1-8) — if hearing biblical warnings like this only makes me more angry, I may have crossed a line God doesn’t want me to cross.  For any sinner, moral fervor is a dangerous emotion.  But looking to the Lord and obeying him, however difficult, are always safe.

3.  If the justice of God isn’t real to me, such that I cannot “leave it to the wrath of God” (Romans 12:19), I may have slipped into self-exaltation, taking God’s place as Judge.  If so, then I am unable to “overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21), because my own heart is evil.  And evil cannot overcome evil, no matter how evil the other person’s evil is.

I cannot see any situation in which accusers, however justified in their cause, would not be wise to remain self-aware and restrained.  We do live in a moral universe.  God always has the last word.  No one is getting away with anything.

There are so many websites dedicated to overcoming evil with good.  Not that the people involved even think of it that way.  They just keep exalting Jesus and his gospel.  They are overcoming much evil by promoting much good.  Surely this is doing the Lord’s work.

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