NOT FORMING PARTIES
The third warning is that we must not be divided into parties, and we must not ask people to follow us. Sometimes we may hear someone saying to another, “Brother, I am on your side.” Such a word is neither spiritual nor sweet. We all have to learn not to draw others to our side and not to have any following. We also have to learn not to take sides with others. Forming parties is an act of the flesh. When the Corinthians were saying there that they were of Paul, of Apollos, of Cephas, or of Christ, Paul condemned them in his Epistle (1 Cor. 1:12). In the church there should be no factions. We are all of Christ, we are all brothers and sisters, and we are members one of another. You are my member, and I even the more am your member; we all are members of one another. Therefore, do not draw people to follow you, and do not follow anyone. This is to be absolutely condemned because it is detrimental to the church life; hence, we must surely guard against it.
Avoiding Being the Only One in the Lead
Fourth, whatever service or small group meeting we are in, we absolutely must not assume the headship. Although in every matter, it seems that someone needs to take the lead, we must avoid it by all means so that others may learn to take the lead. Even if the meeting becomes a little disorderly, it does not matter; at least it is better than we ourselves being the only one in the lead and monopolizing everything. Of course, it is not good to have the meeting in disorder. We hope that all of us will learn to trust in the Lord. Trusting in the Lord will save us from being disorderly. In the church there is only one Head—our Lord Jesus (11:3). Besides Him, we have no other head.
Avoiding Lengthy Speaking in the Meetings
Fifth, we must avoid speaking too many times or too long in the meetings. We must care for the sense of the meeting. For instance, if someone speaks eight times in a meeting, thus occupying most of the meeting time, this would be inappropriate. Furthermore, do not give a long discourse when speaking. Some may speak just once in the meeting, yet their speaking lasts thirty-five minutes; this is also not proper. We should also not pray long prayers in the prayer meeting. When a prayer is long, it kills the meeting. Once there was a brother in Shanghai who would always be present whenever there was a meeting, and whenever he was present, would always pray, and whenever he prayed, would always pray long. Whenever the saints saw him coming to the meeting, they were all worried and troubled, and whenever he opened his mouth, everybody simply could not stand it.
I once heard a story related to D. L. Moody. During Moody’s time there was a person in the meetings who often prayed and would not stop. This afforded Moody an opportunity to learn a lesson, and he gained wisdom from it. He told the congregation, “While our brother keeps on praying without end, do not stop him, but let us just be dismissed.” What Moody meant was, “Since he does not care about our feeling, we cannot do anything about him, so we just have to let him do what he is doing while we do what we should do.” I hope that all of us would take heed to care for the sense of the meeting.
Avoiding Not Caring for the Atmosphere and Flow of the Meeting
Sixth, we must avoid not caring for the atmosphere and flow of the meeting. The Christian meeting has a flow, an atmosphere. What is the atmosphere of a meeting? For instance, the meeting today may be a wedding meeting, so the atmosphere of course is very joyous. Yet if someone comes in with sadness all over his face, then that would be rather inappropriate. Conversely, if we attend a funeral service, and everyone there is so sober, yet some of the attendants are very joyful, then that would also be improper. When we say that there is a flow of the meeting, we mean that there is a center of fellowship in the meeting. One of the saints may be quiet in the meeting most of the time, but once he decides to open his mouth, he always speaks something contrary to the atmosphere of the meeting. When everyone is fellowshipping in joy, he rebukes; when everyone is sharing about something sad, he laughs. This is to not care for the atmosphere and to not follow the flow of the meeting.
We have said already that the Christian meeting may be likened to a basketball game. Each team has five players, so there are ten people playing in the game, but they have only one ball and can use only that ball. This is the rule. However, one of the players may simply ignore this rule, so while the game is going on, he is playing with another ball by himself on the side and is even enjoying it. The same situation is frequently seen in the meeting. A certain brother may stand up and speak something of his own and may go on speaking until it is impossible for the meeting to proceed, yet he continues to enjoy his own speaking, caring neither for the atmosphere nor the flow of the meeting. We must not do this. We all love the Lord, the church, and the meetings. Yet when we come to the meeting we must care for the atmosphere and the flow of the meeting. We must not put on a one-man show, not caring for others’ feelings; this will easily bring in death.
If while we are speaking in the meeting, we become aware that no one is saying amen, then we must stop our speaking as soon as possible. We have to care for the atmosphere of the meeting, and we also must care for others’ feelings and not waste others’ time. Suppose there are five hundred brothers and sisters meeting together. If you speak for ten minutes, and all five hundred speak for ten minutes each, then we would need five thousand minutes, which would be very time-consuming. We must take care of this point. We need to pay attention to this matter particularly in the small group meetings. He who ought to speak should speak quickly; he who ought not to speak should not speak that much. This is the key to whether or not the meeting will be living, fresh, and full of supply.
Avoiding Selecting Hymns and Bible Verses according to Our Own Taste
Seventh, we need to learn how to select hymns and Bible verses. When we select hymns and Bible verses, we must not do it according to our own taste. Whenever we come to a meeting, we should refrain from selecting our favorite hymn or Bible verse—the verse or hymn that we always select, regardless of whether the wind is blowing, the rain is coming down, or the sky is clear. We have to learn to sense the atmosphere of the meeting and to care for the flow of the meeting. We must not care only for our favorite hymn and favorite verse. For this we must be familiar with the hymns and study the Bible well so that we can meet the need of the meeting. I hope that the young people would especially be familiar with the hymns and Bible passages so that you would be able to use them skillfully. Then when you come into the meeting, as soon as you detect the atmosphere of the meeting, you will be able to select a hymn or a portion of the Word which is fitting to that kind of atmosphere.
Caring for the Pleasant Feeling Imparted in the Meeting
Eighth, we have to care for the pleasant feeling which the meeting imparts to people. A meeting must give people a kind of pleasant feeling, causing people to feel that this meeting is sweet. If in our meeting we act in a rough manner, we will lose the sense of sweetness. In the meeting we have to do everything in good order and in an orderly manner so that we may manifest the sweet and pleasant feeling of God’s people meeting together with God in His presence. We need to maintain such a pleasant feeling in our meetings.
Caring for Others to Be Edified
In addition, we should avoid doing and speaking anything habitually without caring about whether or not others are edified.
Closely Following the Spirit
To conclude, in the matter of speaking for God, we must closely follow the Spirit. If we closely follow the Spirit, then the various problems mentioned above will be readily solved.
These points are merely introductory. I hope that we all would go before the Lord to see if there are any other matters that are improper or inappropriate. We must avoid all improper matters, not only in the meeting but even in the church life and in our homes. Our actions and behavior must be profitable to the church, must edify the saints, and must enable the way of the Lord to be gloriously released. If we do everything properly, then when we speak for the Lord, we will win people’s respect, and the way of the Lord will spontaneously be glorified. If in our practice we would actively go forth to release the word of the Lord on the positive side, while avoiding all these problems on the negative side, then the Lord will surely have a way on the earth.
(Speaking for God, Chapter 6, by Witness Lee)