By Edward O. Bragwell, Sr.
Ask nearly any Christian: what is the one thing we (church, family, society) most need today? You will likely hear “love.” No doubt there is a shameful lack of love among many professed Christians. However, I would like to put in a plug for less love among brethren with whom I often associate. Yes, I really believe that there is too much love among Christians. It is a bad sign.
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money . . . lovers of pleasure. . . ” (2 Tim. 3:14).
We need less love for self. We need brethren who will not think more highly of themselves than they ought to think (Rom. 3:3-8). Too many congregations are having problems caused by brethren who think far more of themselves than they need to. A great deal of harmony could be restored if each would esteem others better than himself (Phil. 2:3, 4).
We need less love for money among us. It is the root of all kinds of evil (1 Tim. 6:10). Brethren have trouble finding time to do anything special for the Lord’s cause because they are too tied up with making money. Men go without adequate support in hard fields because brethren love money too much to give what is needed for that support. Preachers sometimes neglect their preaching because they are too involved in money making sidelines.
We needless love for pleasure. Sin can be pleasant (Heb. 11:25). Let there be no mistake about that. Therein lies its appeal. To be sure, the pleasure is short-lived compared to eternity.
Too many brethren think that they should not be asked to forego very much pleasure in order to be a faithful Christian. I think this is at the root of much of the remarriage problem that we are seeing so much of today. Its seems almost unthinkable to some to expect an unscripturally divorced person to forego the pleasure of another marriage. It is almost as if such would be cruel, inhumane and unusual punishment. What is the problem? Too much love for pleasure.
Then many congregations’ attendance suffers from people who are constantly out of town on pleasure trips. One is almost considered some kind of a nut if he suggests that such trips should not be taken if one cannot arrange to assemble with faithful saints on Lord’s day. It seems almost too much to expect a member of a local congregation to make out of town weekend trips extremely rare for the good of the work at home.
It is easy for Christians (young and old) to get up a party. It is not so easy to get up a serious Bible class. Could it be our love for pleasure?
We need less love for pre-eminence among brethren. Diotrephes caused a lot of problems because of this love (3 John 9). We have too many limelight seekers – even among, or maybe we should say especially among, preachers. This gives rise to jealousy and all its attending evil words and deeds. Often such characters will either get the attention they feel they deserve or they will form a wrecking crew for the church.
Elders sometimes prove by their actions they have sought and/or have accepted the eldership more for the ~’honor” than the work. Men often seek positions of leadership not for the opportunity it offers to serve the Lord and others, but as a means of satisfying their lust for “chief seats.” They love the attention that goes with the territory.
We need less love for the wages of unrighteousness (2 Pet. 2:15). The wages may be money gained from outright wrong doing or from soft peddling the truth. It may be human praise gained by the hypocrite (Matt. 6). It may be the approving gestures from those who have itching ears as we go about scratching them (2 Tim. 4:2ff). Too often we are prone to tell folks what they want to hear rather than what they need to hear. The moral and financial support they give us in return is a wage of unrighteousness.
We need less love for this present world. Demas had that problem (2 Tim. 4:10). Paul seems to indicate that his love hurt the Cause. There is too much love for the material things of this present world. There is too much love for the sinful things of this world (1 John 2:15-17), too much lust of the flesh (cf. Gal. 5:19ff), too much lust of the eye, too much pride of life. Brethren need to be more spiritually minded, so that they would not attach so much value to the material and temporal things of this present world. They need more resolve to say “no” to sinful lusts. Too many churches (one would be too many) are filled with worldly minded people who see little need to resist such lusts. One only has to observe for a little while to see that materialism, immodesty, and general lack or purity of speech and discretion is wide-spread in certain congregations that call themselves “conservative.” Brethren, we definitely need less love for the world.
To be sure, we do need more love in some areas. However, surely you will agree that we need a lot less love in many areas.
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 8, pp. 225, 237
April 16, 1987