Vol.IX No.VII Pg.2
September 72

The Call Of Woe

Robert F. Turner

In a tribute to Thomas Campbell, written in 1853, Edward Orvis commended his example to the philosophic mystics of the day—the superspiritualized, infatuated with self, whose highest evidence of their interest in Christ consisted in their contempt of those who differ with them, and their own self-complacency...That caught my eye—and I hoped the writer was not venting his spleen upon one of his own critics.

In any event, it does seem that some measure their soundness on the basis of their opposition to others. Their evidence is wholly negative. We must be right, for look at all the things we are against! Well, there is plenty of error to be fought but our attitude should never be that of contempt. And how are my own deeds justified by anothers failures. Only the self-deceived see themselves elevated because others are debased.

My attention was called anew to the record of our Lords most severe denunciations. In Matt. 23: seven woes are directed against the Scribes and Pharisees of Jerusalem. They are direct, negative, cutting. But I notice that His concluding statements reveal deep concern. Oh Jerusalem... how often would I have gathered thy children tgether... etc. So, I made a further study of the woes! Barclay says, The Greek word for woe is ouai: it is hard to translate for it includes not only wrath, but also sorrow. There is righteous anger here, but it is the anger of the heart of love, broken by the stubborn blindness of men. Goodspeed translates it, Alas! It is called by Thayer an interjection of grief or denunciation. My Greek teacher said it was onomatopoeic—a word formed in imitation of a sound. Ouai, pronounced as a groan, and often repeated two or three times, suggests despair, grief, or other strong emotions. It sounds of calamity, divine penalty and woe, and indicated Jesus deep feeling for those who rejected Him.

Our interest in Christ is best measured by the extent to which we follow His example (1 Pet. 2:21), and contempt for those who differ is NOT characteristic of our Lord. True greatness is found in sacrificial service to others. (Matt. 20:26-28)

Sin must be fought, and error denounced. Its devastating effect will not be avoided by compromise, under the guise of love. We may, in fear hate even the garment spotted by the flesh (Jude 23), but mercy and compassion for mens souls must prevail. Our woe must be an echo from Jesus.