By Charles Degenhart
While working with the old Central church in San Diego during the late forties I had occasion to meet brother Jimmie Lovell a time or two. In those days Jimmie was an affable, outgoing, cheerful person always bubbling over with enthusiasm. Likewise he was always speaking only good of everybody (even of some of whom I had my doubts). He was always dreaming and talking about doing great things in the service of God. In other words, he was “thinking big.”
However, in the January issue of Action which came to our notice, there seems to be a change taking place in his dotage! In boasting about his World Bible School, he states, “In WBS we have one of the most fruitful efforts for souls – our own included – that we have yet attempted. The bedrock backbone of our soul-saving effort is built upon the solid rock of preaching the gospel. We are not trying to win souls through any indirectness. If food, clothing, medical care or any other material means influence a soul for Christ, we plan to take every advantage of it. Our bellyachers have not as yet found any way to stop our success but Satan never sleeps.” Notice that descriptive term “bellyachers.” Could it be that some of brother Lovell’s coworkers do not see eye-to-eye with him on his great work?
In thinking about his terming those who differ from him as “bellyachers” concerning his “great work,” we call to memory a woe pronounced upon those who call good evil and evil good. In God’s word, we find two different attitudes manifested by men. They just might be classed as “bellyachers” by brother Lovell’s way of thinking.
The first class would include the house of Chloe. They had complained to Paul about some factious brethren at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:11). Would Jimmie class Paul’s informants as “bellyachers”?
Peter could be classed among the “bellyachers” al, a, for he told Simon “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God” (Acts 8:21). Was Peter “bellyaching?”
According to brother Lovell’s thinking another Bible character would be classed as a “bellyacher.” When John the Baptist saw many of the hypocritical Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You offspring of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruit worthy of repentance” (Matt. 3:7,8). Was John “bellyaching”?
Jesus pronounced a woe on the scribes and Pharisees for their hypocrisy. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for you compass sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he is become so, you make him twofold more a child of hell than yourselves!” (Matt. 23:15). Again, He rebuked the cities where he had performed many of his miracles. “Woe unto you, Chorazin! Woe unto you Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you” (Matt. 11:21,22). Would brother Lovell accuse Jesus of “bellyaching”?
The above were simply discharging their responsibility to the God of heaven by reproving and rebuking sin. It is not “bellyaching” to reprove one of going beyond the word of God by substituting for God’s requirements! We are living in perilous times indeed. Oftentimes brethren will cast aside the word of God and suit their own likes and dislikes. I have known of some preachers being so cowed by the onslaught of sinning church members against the truth of their condition that they “look the other way,” or “wink at sin.” The result is churches filled with worldliness and sin. Preachers need to cry out against sin in high places today. Brethren need to refrain themselves of conforming to this world (Rom. 12:1,2). We need to “bellyache” today as the men of God did in the days of old!
There is another class of bellyachers revealed in the Book Divine. They are the ones who oppose the will of God. Peter and John had been preaching the word and had performed a miracle to confirm they were the servants of God, and the elders, scribes, high priest, and his relatives had taken them into “custody” and were “bellyaching” to them about their work. Like some today they would not settle for God’s way of doing things (Acts 4:1-12).
Opposing God’s way and the truth is the wrong kind of “bellyaching”! Entirely too many in our day are guilty of such. In many places brethren are getting bolder in opposing God’s revealed plan of marriage, His way of work for the church. Instead of getting the church members working at trying to teach those with whom they work and associate, they are seeking more “gimmicks” to attract people to their assemblies. They have little respect for Colossians 3:17 that tells us we must have chapter and verse for what we teach and practice. Their own “think-so’s” are placed on a par with God’s “say so.” In doing so, they are guilty of impeaching the wisdom of God!
The church as God designed her can do the work God designed for her. There is no need to establish other institutions to do the work. What is needed is teachers and preachers who will teach the brethren how to do it, and to get busy and do it. When that is done, God will bless the church with the increase. Some haven’t learned yet that it is God who gives the increase (1 Cor. 3:6). Let us rise up brethren and plant and water and watch God bless us!
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 12, pp. 370-371
June 21, 1984