That Which is Noble (Image Vol 9, No 1 – Jan/Feb 1993)

By Matt Dabbs

From the Editor’s Desk

By Denny Boultinghouse

When we consider the state of our world we can feel overwhelmed and discouraged. Mankind can be so cruel, so heartless, so thoughtless and so evil. Children are sometimes abused rather than cherished. Women are sometimes degraded rather than valued. Men are sometimes humiliated rather than lifted up. The world is full of predators, users and manipulators. Yes there is much to be discouraged about.

But when we view the world honestly, we must also recognize that there is much that is noble in man. Many sacrifice their time and personal comfort for others. Some give their lives service the under privileged. Nurses give their lives caring for the sick in hospitals. Teacher give their lives helping young people prepare for the future. People are touched by the noble in man. While the ultimate benefit of any purely human endeavor is limited, we surely should applaud every good and noble action.

Granted, sometimes the drudgery of daily life steals our hope for goodness and nobility. So much of our world militates against nobility that we become skeptical and jaded and we lose sight of honor and goodness.

In the political arena, we have sadly come to expect our politicians to appeal to less than noble motivations in order to get votes. They do not inspire us to the principles of our country. Instead they use whatever bring results: Some appeal to jealousy or anger, while others appeal to fear. Appeals are made to vanity and power; some even appeal to blatant prejudice. History has shown that any of these secular motivations will produce a following.

Surely, it should be different in the church. Surely in the church, we should not appeal to the same base motivations that the world appeals to. Surely the church should have lofty goals and high aspirations. We should appeal to that which is noble.

Ministry must be founded upon noble appeals. Things like compassion, kindness, justice, mercy, service and integrity must be foundational to all that happens in the church.

Such noble concepts may not be the best “market strategy.” They may not strike the fancy of Madison Avenue. But they are the things that appeal to Jesus. They are the qualities that characterized his ministry; and thus, they must characterize ours.

Examine the methods of those who would motivate you or your church. Do they lift your spirit toward that which is noble? Do they challenge you to greater heights? If they do not – ignore them. They are not serving God. If their appeal is fear, they are not appealing to that which is noble. If they try to stir up jealousy, do not be caught up in their manipulations.

I understand that certain situations require firm stands upon the truth of the gospel. But if you stand against falsehood in a less than noble manner, you have failed. If you control the children of God through fear and prejudice, if you spread unsubstantiated rumors, if you stir up strife among brethren, if you manipulate brethren to stand against those who manipulate – you are not serving the will of God.

Concern for truth is a noble motivation. But concern for truth does not excuse bad ethics. Concern for truth does not validate unkind or unloving actions. Truth demands integrity.

Sadly, some among us are quick to believe and make accusations. Whether these accusations are against specific brethren, churches, ministries, or schools, the same base methods are used. Those who are quick to “write up” men and women of God may give lip service to “speaking the truth in love,” but their actions speak louder than their words.

When you hear such accusations, not the tone of the speaker. Do you sense a heartfelt concern for the welfare of the supposed erring brother? Does the accuser truly grieve over the offense? Are there tear stains on the paper as his “exposes” the brother who has “gone astray”? The concern is not evident; there is no grief; there are no tears.

Behold, there is no biblical pattern for such lack of integrity. There is non pattern to abandon biblical admonitions about the proper treatment of brethren. There is no biblical pattern to appeal to the secular motivations of fear, anger and prejudice.

Instead, the Bible calls us to appeal to that which is noble and pure and admirable. It calls us to lift up brethren, to forgive one another, to give each other the benefit of the doubt, to look for the good in one another. It calls us to build each other up and treat others the way we want to be treated. It calls us to challenge each other to be used by God in mighty ways.

When it is evident that our motives, goals, and methods are of a noble nature, people will become more committed than we dream possible. they will give their time, energy, and money to support that which is noble. People want to be a part of something significant, something noble. They want to make a genuine difference in our world.

Churches that are built and nourished by fear or the newest threat to the brotherhood will fail. They deserve to. They may continue to muddle along, bemoaning how few have remained “faithful,” but they will have little impact upon their community or their own people.

But when we focus upon compassion, justice, mercy, and the qualities we see demonstrated in Jesus, our people will be refreshed. The more we lift up Christ, the more noble our churches will be.

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About...

Profile photo of Matt DabbsThis author published 1584 posts in this site.
Matt is the preaching minister at the Auburn Church of Christ in Auburn, Alabama. He and Missy have been married 12 years and are raising two wonderful boys, Jonah and Elijah. Matt is passionate about reaching and discipling young adults, small groups, and teaching. Matt is currently the editor and co-owner of Wineskins.org.

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