St. Francis’ saying that Christians should “Preach the Gospel at all times; when necessary, use words” is terrific, except for three things:
- He didn’t really say it.
- He didn’t really live it (he used words, a lot).
- Even if he said it and lived it, it is only accurate if used as hyperbole. Jesus, Paul and a whole bunch of Christians throughout the centuries all used words.
I hear that quote far too often, and typically used as a reason not to use words to share the Gospel. Bad idea. I wrote about the problems of taking that saying too literally here.
I was reminded of it again when listening to a John MacArthur series on marriage and family. If people really wanted to use their actions to help support the Gospel message (which still needs words to be communicated), then they would take this passage very seriously. Note how there are specific commands about sound doctrine, women, men and slaves. And the commands note that by obeying the commands that the word of God may not be reviled. After all, if Christians can’t obey these teachings that brings the word of God into a bad light for non-believers.
We should be zealous for good works, but that includes obeying God’s commands about the role of men and women. Do the St. Francis fans take that seriously?
Teach Sound Doctrine
1 But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. 2 Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. 3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, 4 and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. 6 Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. 7 Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, 8 and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. 9 Slaves are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.