While discussing church growth with a young pastor, something was said, to which he responded, “Sounds pragmatic to me.” I ask him what the word meant; he was not able to give a correct definition. Like so many little lemmings, many follow the rodents over the cliff without any idea what they are talking about or where they are going.
One of the clever tricks of many is to give a negative connotation to a word, associate it with anyone they disagree with, and then smear others by applying it to them. I doubt the average critic has looked up the word or considered how they themselves practice it every day.
The American Heritage Dictionary says pragmatic is: “1. Dealing or concerned with facts or actual occurrences; practical.”
However, those who would smear others, use it in a context that no matter what one does, they can justify it by the end result or outcome. However, they fail to give the definition that being practical, may in some cases, justify the end results. Let us see if the brethren will stay with us for this lesson.
- God allowed Joseph to be sold into slavery and spend time in prison for a crime he never committed. He was later elevated to the second highest position in Egypt. “Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” Genesis 45:5. The purpose in all this was to preserve Israel for the next 400 years. Did the end justify the means?
- God killed the firstborn in Egypt, did the end justify the means?
- God led the armies of Egypt into the Red Sea to destroy them. Did the end justify the means?
- God had Israel to destroy the people in the land. Did the end justify the means?
- God had Jesus to die on the cross, did the end justify the means?
- God will gather the nations against Israel for destruction. Will the end justify the means?
- When the Lord said, “ For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it? Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.” Luke 14:28-30. Sounds like a practical approach when starting a building program.
- When God said, “Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace.” Luke 14:31-32. This passage shows the wisdom of counting the cost before going to war.
Now I can hear those who say, “But, that was God.” Now, let us discuss your daily decisions. Do you believe your choices and activities will be justified by the end results? If you don’t, there is something haywire in your brain. You believe the end justifies every decision you make, or you are a hypocrite.
Of course there are things that are wrong, and are not justifiable. But, most of the criticism by the brethren is not that you have done wrong, you have just failed to do it their way. I can already anticipate how the brethren will skirt these issues and continue their criticism. You see, when they are speaking of pragmatic; they confuse it with pragmatism. They are not the same. They fail to includes their own decisions as practical. What they really mean is, anyone who does anything practical they disapprove. In other words, If you don’t approve how the other guy does ministry, just tag him with pragmatism.
Here is a list of synonyms: “Demonstrating pragmtic and common sense: • prudent, • circumspect, • common sensical, • practical, • savvy (US), • wise, • useful.” The two legs of practical common sense is; prayer and the practical. This is the Scriptural approach to all issues in life.
Pastor Ken Blue was born in Boswell, Ark. In 1955 he accepted Christ as his Savior. He and his wife Joyce were married in 1955. They have 5 children. He graduated from Midwestern Baptist Bible College in 1969 and started the Open Door Baptist Church in Lynnwood, Wa. where he pastored for 39 years. Because of health issues (ALS) he was forced to resign as pastor. It is his desire to continue to be used of God to help pastors and believers through this ministry.