Contenders, Pretenders, Intenders
Well, which of the three do you see yourself? Let’s recall as Christians that we have the ever-present duty of examining ourselves, as Paul told the Christians at Corinth to “examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith, test yourselves…” (II Cor. 13:5). So, as we “examine” this passage, do we give this statement the attention it deserves as we should toward the entire word of God? Why would Paul express concern over whether or not Christians were “examining themselves”? Well, he answers that question in the remainder of the same verse: “…whether you are in the faith.”
Listen, do you think Paul’s urging was only for the first century Christians in Corinth? Of course not! You see, all we have to do is look about us and even among us to see the urgency of the need to “examine ourselves.” For far too long, as the “old school preachers” use to preach, “Brethren, we’re drifting.” Over the years, what was once preached and accepted as gospel truth has been compromised over the years as opinion or liberties. These may have their place, but not in matters of doctrine. But because brethren have “gone beyond that which is written” (I Cor. 4:6), look at the results. The social gospel concept has permeated so many of the local bodies of Christ, that there remains only a slight distinction between them and many of the denominations in our land. And the reason? Churches are not heeding Paul’s instructions to “examine yourselves whether you are in the faith.” Churches are no longer “testing themselves.” Hey, we used to wonder when women would be inserted to participate in active roles in our church services. Wonder no more!
All right, it’s exam time. Let’s see where we find ourselves:
Are you a Contender like Paul? We find in II Tim. 4:6-8 the results of his own “self examination” (don’t you love it when a preacher practices what he preaches?). He says, “I am now ready to be offered and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight; I have finished my course, I have kept the faith…” And let’s not forget Jude, who was exhorting his readers to “contend earnestly for the faith.”
Are you a Pretender? Remember these two Christians who were guilty of “making shipwreck of their faith,” Hymenaeus and Alexander, in I Tim. 1:19-20? Paul said he delivered them to Satan that they learn not to blaspheme. If we find ourselves just kind of going through the motions in worship, not really committed in serving God with all our heart, then there we are, just pretending that everything is OK while in reality we are holding hands with the devil!
Are you an Intender? Remember those Jesus encountered in Luke 9:57-62? Here are three men who “intended” to follow Jesus, but the obvious problem was they had their priorities in the wrong place. You see, it just wasn’t the right time for them to accept His invitation (although they intended to). So because of their “excuses and intentions,” Jesus said they “weren’t fit for the kingdom of God” (v. 62).
Someone has said it well—“the road to hell is filled with good intentions.”