I HAD NOT PRAYED

T. PIERCE BROWN

Recently I received two shocks that may have affected my heart more than five bypasses did. First, I was publicly accused of not practicing what I preached. I am not sure which of the following adjectives describe my feelings more accurately: hurt, chagrined, abashed, shocked, bewildered, aghast, stunned, upset, amazed, astonished, disturbed, agitated, dismayed, appalled, frustrated or resentful, but possibly all of them. I requested that he show me evidence of my failures in this respect so I could correct it. He promised to do so, but later refused to send it to me.

My second shock came a few moments ago, when at about 4 a.m. I realized that although the accusation was false in the context in which he made it, it was true in another area. For more than half a century I have preached that one who claims to be a Christian should follow the teachings and examples of Christ. I even wrote a workbook, THE MIND OF CHRIST, in which I pressed the point. When at4 a.m.I awoke with the beatitudes running through my head, Matthew 5:11-12 first hit me. “Blessed are ye, when men shall reproach you, and persecute you, and  say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven.” Then the last part of verse 44 sprang unbidden to my mind. “I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you and persecute you” (KJV).

The realization that I had not done that was a greater shock than that which I had when the false accusation was made. Instead of rejoicing at being maligned and misrepresented because I stood up for principles that Christ taught, I had felt resentment, or something close to it. Instead of praying for the one who misrepresented my words, and continues to do so, I had merely wondered how one who claimed to be a Christian could so act.

So I discovered to my shame and sorrow, that although I had not been guilty in the context in which I was accused, I was just as guilty in another area. I suppose I felt somewhat like a man who gloried in showing he had been falsely accused of committing adultery with Mrs. Jones and then it was discovered that he had been committing adultery with Mrs. Smith.

So I prayed, “Lord, forgive me for not practicing what I have preached.” Then I prayed, “Lord, help the one who falsely accused me and perverted my words to see what he has done and try to correct his ways. Show special mercy on him, Father, for if he is really trying to do right, he needs to be loved and helped. If he is acting from ego, pride, self will or any wrong motives, he may need to be loved and helped even more, so do whatever needs to be done that he may be saved. In any case, help me to be more like Christ and Stephen, for I hope he will not be charged with this sin.”

To say that I was humbled by this awareness which came a few moments ago early in the morning is perhaps not quite accurate, for “humiliated” is perhaps a better word. However, I did become more deeply aware that each of us, no matter how long we have preached, or how righteous we may think we are, need to heed Paul’s words carefully. “Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor.10:12). If honest confession is good for the soul, perhaps this one will help you as well as me to take care that we teach as Christ did, then practice it.

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