Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
Select a thought to read by choosing a collection, the month, and then the day:
From conversations with Preacher Clark in the late 1970’s
If a minister with an angry, contentious attitude manages to win some sinners to the Lord, it is very likely that those converts whom he brought in will have the same contentious attitude that he has. If a minister is a gentle, loving soul, his converts will very likely demonstrate the same gentleness that he has. Jesus said that a good tree cannot bear bad fruit and that a bad tree cannot produce good fruit. This principle may not hold true in all cases, but most of the time, it will.
We influence each other, and especially is this so when someone looks to us as being closer to God than he is. What it amounts to is this: whenever you speak to another person about his soul or about the Lord, you are in spirit saying to that person, “Be like me.” We were always taught that if you do not want others to be like you, then do not speak to them about Jesus.
During his trial, Paul the prisoner told the king who was listening to his defense, “I would to God that both you and everyone else here were altogether like me, with the exception of these chains” (Acts 26:29). In his first letter to the Corinthians (7:7), Paul said, “I would that all men were even as I myself” and “I beseech you, be ye followers of me” (4:16).
In reality, if you are following anyone, you are following him as he is following Christ. If he is following Christ poorly, and you are following him, then you are following Christ poorly, too. If he is following Christ faithfully, and you are following him, then you are following Christ faithfully, too.
“The prudent looketh well to his going”, said Solomon. What he meant was that the wise person will consider diligently the qualifications of the man whom they might follow in this life. This does not mean that they will consider his degrees and his titles. It means they will demand that he truly be ordained by God to lead, because they know that the only thing in heaven and earth that qualifies a man to lead God’s children is the ordination of God. No Christian ceremony can do that. No one can be elected to that position. And no man has the authority to “take this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron” (Heb. 5:4).
If the shepherd you are following is lacking in holiness and wisdom, it does not mean that you are doomed to be the same. Children of God can remain clean in God’s sight even if they have a pastor who fails miserably in his duties toward them (e. g. Rev. 3:1-4), but it is only a few who have such strength to maintain pure garments when their pastor does not. Most of God’s children fit into the pattern my father revealed to me long ago: to wit, as the attitude and conduct of the pastor goes, so goes the attitude and conduct of the congregation.