Daily Devotion: Sunday
Psalm of the Day: Psalm 119:89-96
Wisdom of the Day: Job 39:1-15
Scripture Reading: Luke 9:46-50
In the second place, our Lord Jesus Christ gives us a warning against harsh in spirit. As in the preceding verses, the occasion of the warning is supplied by the conduct of His own disciples. We read that John said to Him, "Master, we saw one casting out devils in your name and we forbade him, because he does not follow with us." Who this man was, and why he did not associate with the disciples we do not know. But we do know that he was doing a good work in casting out devils, and that he was doing what he did in the name of Christ. And yet John says, "we forbade him."
Very striking is the reply which the Lord at once gave him, "Do not forbid him for he who is not against us, is for us." The conduct of John and the disciples on this occasion is an illustration of the sameness of human nature in every age. Thousands, in every period of Church history, have spent their lives in copying John's mistake.
The solemn remark of our Lord Jesus Christ demands our special notice. He pronounces no opinion upon the conduct of the man of whom John speaks. The principle laid down in this passage is of great importance. The divisions and varieties of opinion which exist among Christians, are undeniably very great. The schisms and separations which are continually arising about Church-government, and modes of worship are very perplexing to tender consciences.
Shall we approve those divisions? We cannot do so. Union is strength. The divisions of Christians is one cause of the slow progress of vital Christianity. Harsh words have never yet made men of one mind. Unity was never yet brought about by force.
What then ought we to do? We must love and leave alone those who do not agree with us, and wait quietly until God shall think fit to bring us together. We must be gracious. Whatever we may think of our divisions, the words of our Lord must never be forgotten, "Do not forbid them."
We forget that no individual Church on earth has an absolute monopoly of all wisdom, and that people may be right in the main, without agreeing with us. We must learn to be thankful if sin is opposed, and the Gospel preached, and the devil's kingdom pulled down though the work may not be done exactly in the way we like. We must try to believe that men may be true-hearted followers of Jesus Christ, and yet for some reason, may be kept back from seeing all things in religion just as we do.
Above all, we must praise God if souls are converted, and Christ is magnified. Happy are those who can say with Paul, "If Christ be preached, I rejoice! Yes and I will rejoice!" (Philippians 1:18). This does not mean we approve of unbiblical behavior, but our words and thoughts must always be seasoned with grace. We must stand on doctrine wisely like a serpent, but be harmless as a dove.
Prayer for the Day: Dear Lord, help me to be gracious and loving to those I disagree with.
Action Plan: Conservative Christianity, and Fundamentalism in particular, has fought hard to preserve doctrinal purity. This is right and good, but it always must be done lovingly. How can you love those who you disagree with without compromising what you believe?
This devotional was taken from The Gospel of Luke by J.C. Ryle published in 1858
and adapted by Pastor Tim Lewis of New England Shores Baptist Church.