Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Lessons from Aesop: Lobbing ‘Grenades of Truth’ at the Wounded

A boy bathing in a river was in danger of being drowned. He called out to a passing traveler for help, but instead of holding out a helping hand, the man stood by unconcernedly, and scolded the boy for his imprudence. "Oh, sir!" cried the youth, "pray help me now and scold me afterwards." Counsel without help is useless.  From Aesop’s Fables.

Paul Tripp refers to this as “lobbing grenades of truth”.  grenadeI wonder how often and in how many areas we, as the church, do this to struggling believers and unbelievers.  Are there homosexuals dying of AIDS and without Christ that we refuse to reach out to?  Are there poor people that spend their money unwisely that we ignore?  Are there teenagers that we refuse to counsel because of their unwise choices?   

I fear that we often look more like the passing traveler than Jesus.  We are pretty good about exercising church discipline.  But sadly the church discipline that we often exercise is on unbelievers.  We let many that claim to be believers go untouched (so long as they are within our friendly confines, tithe, or at least on our membership rolls) with discipline and we “discipline” those are not even within the church. 

You see Aesop really does well at pointing out the ministry of Jesus here.  Jesus most frequently helped and then counseled.  The only time you really see the opposite is with the religious elite that “don’t need help”.  If we only lob truth at people and scold them in their sin then our counsel is useless.  If we only help people but never counsel them then our help is shallow at best. 

Perhaps, rather than boycotting Pepsi and picketing gay parades we should try to build a relationship.  Perhaps, rather than saying to a poor person we will only give 25% to your electric bill we should give until it hurts us, come alongside the person making poor decisions, and counsel them in biblical finances.

But of course lobbing grenades is far easier.  It is more destructive but at least it takes less out of us than hand-to-hand combat.  I could probably lob 15 grenades to every instance of hand-to-hand combat, but it remains impersonal.   So, which type of ministry do you want with people?  Easy yet destructive or tough yet personal?


  1. Very well said. I know in my life I'm very quick to rebuke the person without trying to do it in love and give the person some help.

    There's a member at the church I go to that I'm really struggling with right now. I really stuggle with bitterness torwards them. I pray that God will fix this. I really like him. He's one of the few members at that church that's trying to guide me as I get into preaching. However, it seems as most when I run into him, he finds things I'm doing wrong. which is fine. But it seems as he's very negitive torward me. And questions me with questions I know he'll find something wrong with my answers.
    I know I mess up a lot. And I don't want him to praise me all the time and say how good I am. But it would be nice to not feel so downhearted sometimes when I talk with him.
    However, this could be just my own sinful selfishness.

  2. Curt,

    I think that often times when people are trying to help they forget to encourage along the way. What you are desiring is not sinful. God has created us with a need for encouragement. It is sinful if that need turns into idolatry or anger when it is not received.

    On another note have you been preaching some?

  3. This is a great article. It's really easy to stand at a distance and and say "keep warm and well fed" and not do anything for people who are struggling. I liked what you said about people who are poor. The poor are people that I feel have really been stiff-armed by the church, i.e." don't give them any money- you don't know what they'll spend it on."....in some ways it goes against everything that I've ever been taught to offer the kind of "help" that costs me and it is sad that this kind of laziness has been encouraged by the church in some ways.-I guess I shouldn't be surprised; we're all sinners, but this attitude is something we definitely need to repent of. Do you think this attitude is more prominent in rural churches?

  4. The latest thing I've got to do is share a message with the RA's at the church I go to on about why it's important for us to read our Bibles.
    The pastor at a church I use to go to wanted me to preach a few months ago. But I guess he changed his mind. I'm hoping he may still ask me sometime when he's not able to preach.

  5. Curt,

    That is exciting that you are beginning to proclaim the gospel to groups of people. I hope that the Lord continues to bless you in that. Let me know if you need any help with this.

    Anon-(or should I say Nik?),
    I would imagine that suburban churches and rural churches struggle with this more than in the inner city. I do not know this from experience though.

  6. Thanks, Mike!

  7. Great post. I say AMEN to it. Most gays think that conservative Christians hate them. We are conveying a wrong message.

    I like what the churches in our area do. Our church started a ministry called CAP--churches Assisting People. A bunch of the local churches donate to it and it is run by volunteers. It has a food bank and money bank . The money goes to help with electric bills, repairs, etc. They have certain policys they go by--but they have been a huge help to those struggling in the community. We also started a food kitchen that serves a meal every evening---we asked other churches to help here and this to has been great! This enables the churches to all pitch in and help the community and it is a testimony that radiates Christ. We also have a fostering care ministry that gets donations to help provide clothes and toys for free for foster families.

    I believe the church should be deeply involved in good works--this kind of love demonstrates the God of Love , doesn't it--the God of Grace.



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