Differences of Opinion
There are four causes for the differences of opinion which are, alas, so widespread among the saints, and so humbling to us all. What can be a more humiliating picture than to see members of the one body, each of whom is a temple of the Holy Spirit, holding and advocating with all the earnestness of their abilities, opinions directly at variance with one another?
The first cause is ignorance. Many are not sufficiently enlightened as to the Word of God so as to be able to discern what others see to be positively revealed. Nicodemus was ignorant, the Ethiopian eunuch was ignorant and Apollos was ignorant. There is, however, something to commend in one who is simply ignorant, and that is, he likes to be informed, and is receptive to light. In such a case, light is in mercy supplied by some means. Mere ignorance, where there is not will, is no hindrance to the Spirit of God.
Some, however, remain both ignorant and unenlightened. The reason the ignorance is not corrected is that it has grown into prejudice, which is another cause of differences of opinion. Prejudice springs from being educated in a religious system, and the greatest example of this was the Jewish nation. It ruled the Jews to such an extent that they thought they did God service in killing Christ. Prejudice judges everything, even the Word of God, in the light of the religious dogma which governs the conscience.
The third cause of differences of opinion is expediency. This often occurs where there is neither ignorance or prejudice, and simply arises from looking at things in relation to man instead of in relation to God. This was Marthaís mistake. Her work was a useful and a necessary one in manís eyes, but she consulted her own mind and not the Lordís. It is amazing the divergence of opinion which must exist between a Martha and a Mary; the more expedient the thing seems to be, the more difficult it is to renounce it for the Word of God. It would be as difficult to effect an agreement between the man of expediency and the man of faith who is simply led by the Word, as to make a man looking eastward see what a man looking westward sees.
The last cause of differences of opinion is covetousness. Covetousness is desiring something for oneís own gratification. There is an idol in the heart, and all truth is qualified or reduced in order to spare this idol. How the covetous man glosses over the passages of Scripture which rebuke his course! Why had all Asia turned away from Paul? Because he presented the full truth.
These then are the four reasons for differences of opinion. May the Lord exercise our hearts and consciences so that we may not be harbouring anything which is a hindrance to oneness of mind and judgement.