MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS is good advice.   It takes a degree of self-discipline to do this.   No doubt, many tears and heartaches have been the results because we simply will not keep our noses out of other peoples’ affairs.

Although the Lord has ordained that we serve Him in local congregations with local autonomy, this does not mean that sister congregations have no responsibility one to the other.  The apostle Peter said, “Love the brotherhood” (1 Peter 2:17).  Brother Guy N. Woods says of this verse, “The `brotherhood’ is the church of the Lord in its aggregate sense; the affection we are admonished to feel for it is the love which obtains between those of the same family with common parentage, common interests, and common aims.”  One of the greatest, if not the greatest characteristics of the Lord’s church is that we can all believe the same doctrine, yet practice it in local congregations around the whole world.  This mark of identification is devastating to the denominational concept!   It is an open demonstration of the answer to our Lord’s prayer for unity (John 17:20-26).  What a blessing it is to travel anywhere in the world and find God’s people speaking the same things (1 Cor. 1:10; Philippians 2:1-5).   This can be done because we use only the New Testament as our guide!   Realizing that the Scripture makes us one, we should be careful always to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27).

Sometimes we hear our individuals and congregations hiding behind the phrase MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS.  A congregation is having doctrinal difficulty.  It would appear to be good advice to say to those not members of the congregation to MYOB.  Yet, it becomes our business when the group teaches false doctrine.   Example: Church “A” decides to use an instrument of music in worship.  Does this become the business of members of another congregation? Suppose church “A” stops weekly communion and starts monthly communion.  Again, does this become the business of other congregations?  If not, how could they be marked (Romans 16:17)? How could fellowship be withdrawn from those who walk disorderly, if it is none of our business what others do (II Thessalonians 3:6)?  Would not our “love for the brotherhood” suggest we should help them to return to the old paths (Jeremiah 6:16; Galatians 5:4)?  Even so, if a congregation is teaching and practicing false doctrine relative to the duties and responsibilities of the elders, then it becomes our business to make this known to all (Acts 5:11; 15:4).  When elders take the position that they do not have to “show and tell” (keeping the members informed, abreast, and knowledgeable of the work of the church) they are “being lords over God’s heritage . . .” (1 Peter 5:3).  Elders should be just as free with what the money is being spent for as they are in asking for it!

Local autonomy is not a license to “lording” the matters of the church over the flock.  Local autonomy does not give the elders the right to perpetuate the eldership.  Local autonomy does not mean infallibility of elders.  Local autonomy does mean that God through the Scripture has authorized a group of believers to set themselves apart as a congregation selecting elders to oversee them and function according to the pattern of the Scripture and execute the work of the church (Acts 20:28; 1 Peter 5:1-4).   The New Testament is the legislation; the elders see that it is practiced and taught, serving as leaders, not bosses, out front, setting the right examples in all things blameless (1 Peter 5:1-4; 1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6).  The very moment an elder or elders become self-willed, stubborn, and refuses to talk with the members and discuss the affairs of the church with them, he and they should be recalled and asked to resign by the same people who appointed them, members of the church, in the first place.  This is a two way street and therefore, members should be just as honest and open and above board in all their dealings with the elders as the elders should be with the members (Hebrews 13:7, 17).  If both elders and members would provide things honest in the sight of each other and God, then the church would not have lawsuits and divisions among themselves (Romans 12:17; 2 Corinthians 8:21).  The shame and reproach brought upon the Lord’s church by such ungodly men and women will not go unnoticed either in this world or the world to come.   It will take years to live down the bad example.

Surely there are enough wise men among congregations to settle problems without having “to go to law with brothers, and that before the unbelievers” (1 Corinthians 6:1-8).  Shame!   In Matthew 18:15-18, the formula is too simple to be misunderstood.  These two passages are sufficient to keep down all strife and seduction if brethren would only apply them and practice them, the reproach brought on the Lord’s church notwithstanding.

Bill Graddy


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