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Wednesday, August 14, 2013
"Speaking with Grace"
"Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Colossians 4:6
Two of the greatest preachers that ever lived pastored in London at the same time. Charles Spurgeon and Joseph Parker both had large churches in those days. One day, Parker commented on the poor condition of children admitted to Spurgeon's orphanage. It was reported to Spurgeon, however, that Parker had criticized the orphanage itself. Spurgeon blasted Parker the next week from the pulpit. The attack was printed in the newspapers and became the talk of the town. People flocked to Parker's church the next Sunday to hear his rebuttal. "I understand Dr. Spurgeon is not in his pulpit today, and this is the Sunday they use to take an offering for the orphanage. I suggest we take a love offering here instead." The crowd was delighted. The ushers had to empty the offering plates three times. Later that week there was a knock at Parker's study. It was Spurgeon. "You know, Parker, you have practiced grace on me. You have given me not what I deserved, you have given me what I needed."
I have observed several things in this story:
1. People love a scandal. Newspapers filled pages with scandalous stories about the supposed fighting between these two preachers. Joseph Parker's church filled up with people looking to watch a good fight. Yes, too often we have "feet that be swift in running to mischief" (Prov. 6:18).
2. Not everything you hear is true. Joseph Parker simply commented about the condition of the poor children that Spurgeon had taken in. He, in no way, suggested that the poor condition was the fault of Spurgeon's orphanage, yet, that was how it was reported to Mr. Spurgeon. Be very careful not to believe everything you hear about others. Remember, there are those who love to sow "discord among brethren" with a "false witness that speaketh lies" (Prov. 6:19).
3. Good people make serious mistakes. Charles Spurgeon was a faithful man of God that pastored thousands of people, and he served pastors all over the world. He had become known as the "Prince of Preachers." No preacher has ever had more sermons printed than Charles Spurgeon. He was a godly man. But he blew it this time! Proverbs 14:17 clearly says, "He that is soon angry dealeth foolishly." God plainly required that a pastor was not be "selfwilled, not soon angry" (Titus 1:7). No matter how close we are to the Lord we can still fail in a big way.
4. Grace always rules the day. When people came looking for a scandal and a fight, Joseph Parker confronted them with grace. Instead of being disappointed, that crowd became overwhelmed with grace and gave money to support the orphanage. Jesus Christ was exalted, the orphans were fed, the critics were silenced, and the preachers were reconciled when one person showed grace. How true it is that "a soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger" (Prov. 15:1).
"Brethren, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen." Galatians 6:18