A Word Fitly Spoken
By Clint Morgan
My years in Africa gave me an appreciation for many elements of African culture. By far, African proverbs impacted me most. The simple but profound truths hidden in these word nuggets provided counsel, warning, humor, and much more.
I recollect many times my African brothers and sisters dropped a proverb into a situation and instantly a good word of advice was given, a tense moment turned to laughter, or an argument averted.
On one occasion, our national church leaders were gathered to settle a misunderstanding between several believers. It didn’t take long for emotions to get charged and the air tense. The words came quickly, sharply, and menacingly. Accusations of hard-headedness, close-mindedness, and purely unscriptural actions were launched from both parties. Tempers flared. Accusations turned to threats. Declarations to withdraw from the regional association of churches issued.
Suddenly, one of the leaders stood and sternly delivered an African proverb, “It is obvious we aren’t warming ourselves by the same fire.” He turned and walked away from the group gathered under the mango tree. The heated exchange turned to stone-cold silence. One-by-one, each person walked away. The African proverb clearly summed up the situation.
We cannot eliminate all misunderstandings in the world or even those in the smaller, personal arena. Sometimes, we just aren’t “warming ourselves by the same fire.” But does it not stand to reason that Christians should be able to find some common ground on all issues?
Ephesians 4:1-6 teaches, “There is one body and one Spirit.” If this is true, and I certainly believe it is, then we should be able to find common “fire” to warm ourselves.
God has made us one in the Spirit, so not even a remote possibility exists that He would sow division among His people. Sure, at times His Word is clearly violated, even by other professing believers, and we must separate ourselves from those actions. In some cases, however, the “fire” by which we are standing is of our own making and not of the Spirit. We may have to put out our own fire to warm ourselves by God’s fire. How many times do we confuse the two?
These verses from Ephesians state we are one based on the most foundational of truths. We as believers have “one Lord...one faith...one baptism...one God and Father of all.” Now that is a fire we all need to warm ourselves by. I am pretty sure this would lead to more civil discourse—even when we disagree.
Oh, by the way, I haven’t been in any arguments lately with brothers in Christ. These are just thoughts that give me hope when I do find myself in disagreement with others within the Body.
About the Writer: Clint Morgan has been director of Free Will Baptist International Missions since 2011. He and his wife served 30 years in Côte d’Ivoire, West Africa, before transferring to Europe to work with Muslims in France. Order his book, African Proverbs: Wisdom Without Borders www.RandallHouse.com.