"Thou hast given a banner to them that fear thee, that it may be displayed because of truth." — (Psalm 60:4)
"Lift ye up a banner upon the high mountain, exalt the voice unto them." — (Isaiah 13:2)
Devoted To The Defense Of The Church Against All Errors And Innovations
Vol.VI No.V Pg.1
December 1943

Looking On The Stumbling Side

Cled E. Wallace

Away back yonder when the New Testament was written, James left a remark on record to the effect that "in many things we all stumble." One reason the Bible remains up to date is that it is so true to the facts of life. A notable thing about stumbling is that it attracts so much attention. I was walking along one day and was not aware of attracting any attention at all, but I suddenly stumbled and everybody looked. Anybody can attract more attention by stumbling in a public place than he can by walking uprightly.

Now, preachers as I know them, are a pretty decent lot, but it is as true of them as it is of others that "in many things we all stumble." And inasmuch as one stumble will attract more attention than a day's walking it is not surprising that we hear a lot about the faults of preachers. Sometimes the first thing we hear about a preacher is some fault he has. Well, we all have them, but faults that are not too serious should be viewed with a good deal of tolerance. Finding fault is a pretty easy job for the reason that stumbling is so noticeable. And besides we do not all stumble at the same place and time, that is we do not usually do so.

It looks silly and useless to me when somebody else stumbles and my first impulse is to laugh or be shocked, depending on the seriousness of the situation and I may feel the urge to chide the delinquent and exhort him to be more careful. When I stumble, it is embarrassing and if there is a reason for it outside my own carelessness I am quick to see it, and use it in my own defense. That is human nature. Jesus drew a good lesson from this trait of human nature. "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me cast out the mote out of thine eye; and lo, the beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye." About all of us are somewhat tainted with this form of hypocrisy. The Pharisees were deeply religious. When religion makes a man hypercritical of the conduct of others, he can become more of a nuisance than an edifier. We preachers need to give a thought to this angle. The pulpit can easily become a platform for faultfinding. Some preachers scold people more than they teach them.

Conscience is a good thing but it can be over-developed. A thyroid gland is a good thing but it can give a lot of trouble if it is overdeveloped. The common foibles of the brethren are a constant temptation to the preacher with an over-developed conscience to degenerate into a common scold. The result is likely to be more irritation than reformation.

I have heard of some very good preachers arriving at the conclusion that the drinking of tea and coffee and certain "cola" drinks was injurious to health, an unnecessary waste of money, and that it is downright "sinful" to take such "slop" into the stomach. They wasted some of the Lord's time, trying to get that over to the brethren. Most of the brethren in such cases just charged it up to a little queerness on the part of the preacher and went on drinking their tea and coffee, while a few others became a little nettled, and a very few more neurotically inclined actually tried to quit. You know it would be too bad for a coca-cola or a cup of coffee to keep you out of heaven.

Some of us who smoke really get the works. Now, I'm not going to try to think up any reasons why a man should smoke. The ones who smoke do not need them, and

I have no desire to encourage anybody to start. Most everybody does some unnecessary things just because he wants to. It might well be that R. L. Whiteside, Winston Churchill and I could do clearer thinking and set a better example if we didn't smoke, but when some preacher informs us that we are not welcome in his home or in his church because we do, we are likely to decide that we would prefer to be somewhere else anyhow. Preachers can get pretty funny sometimes and veer in the direction of the tyrannical. I could name at least one who thinks the kingdom would be greatly advanced if preachers would quit smoking and children would quit hanging up their stockings for Santa Claus to fill up at Christmas time. However, he has consulted every doctor from Baltimore to Saint Louis, has taken enough pills and drunk enough alcohol in patent medicines to produce delirium tremens under other circumstances, and can entertain you conversationally with all the gruesome details of his various ailments. He is a good preacher in spite of all that and will probably live to be at least a hundred and go to heaven when he dies. As for me I was nearly grown before I found out that there wasn't a Santa Claus, I'm not so sure about it yet, my own children have grown up and found it out for themselves, and I'm minded to let the little heathen that belong to the rest of the brethren find it out the same way. I'm heathen enough myself to wish them all a Merry Christmas while the delusion lasts.

After all, maybe the fellow had something who said there's so much good in the worst of and so much bad in the best of us, it behooves not any" of us to be too tough on the rest of us.