FACING VARIOUS PROBLEMS IN OUR SPEAKING FOR GOD
We would like to fellowship concerning some of the things we should absolutely avoid when we speak for God. Those who know a little about farming know that when a farmer farms his field, there are certain things he must avoid so that the growth of the crop will not be hampered. First he must protect his crop against floods. Then he must protect against insects, that is, he must prevent the insects from eating up the tender sprouts in the field. In farming, the hardest problem is how to deal with the various kinds of insects. Once you plant some trees, there will be insects; one kind of tree will have this kind of insect, while another kind of tree will have another kind of insect. While some of the insects are easy to deal with, others are very hard to deal with and cannot be killed regardless of how hard you try. Eventually you may have to burn the tree down, but that is really the worst strategy. Therefore, we have to avoid the harm caused by insects.
In Song of Songs the Lord says, “Catch the foxes for us, / The little foxes, / That ruin the vineyards / While our vineyards are in blossom” (2:15). Here we see that the little foxes come to damage especially when the vineyards are in blossom. We also may discover harmful pests called snails. They particularly eat the flower buds; they do not eat the leaves or the stem, but they specifically eat the best and most tender parts. Furthermore, after eating the buds, they hide themselves so that you are unable to find them.
The little foxes do not come when the vine is not in blossom; it is when the vine is in blossom that they come. Now at this time we are going forward, and the vineyards will soon be in blossom. Once they blossom, we have to be on guard against the coming of the little foxes. This is what we have to avoid. The little foxes, snails, and other germs and pests will bring in damage. This requires our prevention. There is another animal called the gopher. Gophers are terrible because they burrow under the trees and create underground passageways. They live underground and secretly ruin the growth of many flowers, plants, trees, and crops. In Matthew 13, the Lord Jesus also used the birds and thorns as illustrations. He said that the sower went out to sow, but although the seeds were sown, they encountered all kinds of difficulties, such as being devoured by the birds of the air or being choked by the thorns, so that the seeds could not bear fruit (vv. 4, 7). Today we are experiencing these things, and we need to be warned.
Not Teaching Things Different from God’s Economy
The first warning is for the co-workers. An error which we who work for the Lord most easily make is that we like to give messages according to our preference. On the one hand, we prefer to give messages which fit our taste; on the other hand, we prefer not to speak others’ messages. We would not “cook others’ dishes,” that is, we would not speak what others have already spoken. Almost every co-worker is like this. Therefore, in 1 Timothy 1 Paul told Timothy, “I exhorted you…to remain in Ephesus,” and asked Timothy to especially pay attention to one thing: to “charge certain ones not to teach different things” (v. 3). In Paul’s time, the “different things” referred first to the law, which was of and according to the Old Testament. Second, they referred to the genealogies, especially the research of the Old Testament genealogies. All these are according to the Old Testament, but they are things which are different from the New Testament economy.
Then in verse 4 Paul continued to say, “Which produce questionings rather than God’s economy, which is in faith.” In other words, the “different things” taught by those people were not according to God’s economy. God’s economy is firstly Christ as the mystery of God, and secondly the church as the mystery of Christ. From the fourteen Epistles written by Paul we can see that the focus of the messages he preached was Christ and the church. Today the things being taught in Christianity may be scriptural, yet there are too many different teachings. One example is the practice of foot-washing. Foot-washing is surely according to the Bible. In America there are Christians who insist that the believers must wash each other’s feet before they break the bread; however, there are some who do not practice this, thus giving rise to debates. Some Christians often debate concerning scriptural practices such as head covering, baptism, and the Lord’s table and are therefore divided from each other.
(Speaking for God, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)