Mark 7:2, “And when they saw some of his disciples eat bread with defiled, that is to say, with unwashen, hands, they found fault.”
This morning, society, as we have mentioned many times before, continues to bleed its thinking into our communities, churches, and families. When society’s mentality makes Godly people waver on issues such as judgment, discipline, marriage, or even the Bible’s stance on homosexuality, the devil no doubt takes great delight in the confusion that comes from such things. However, one of the most prominent societal mindsets that invades us and our borders on a regular basis is the subject matter of fault finding. Fault finding can be rather blandly put into two categories: 1. correct faults and 2. incorrect faults. While that can go without saying, part of the rub with society is that each category is generally viewed the wrong way. In other words, correct faults are ignored, while incorrect faults are pointed out strenuously and with much fanfare.
In our verse above, we see – as so often happened – that the Pharisees and other groups were “after Jesus” and his followers to find fault with Him and them. By the end of Christ’s ministry, they are pointing to incorrect faults in bringing false witnesses against Him at the mock trial that they held the night before His crucifixion. In the realm of Jesus, no one will ever find a correct fault, but in our realm, people can find real and certifiable fault with us as we fail so often. However, what seems to be the case today was the case then. The fault that people find so often with the followers of Jesus is an incorrect fault that His followers have no reason to be ashamed of. The biggest and easiest example of this today is the constant push of society for Christ’s followers to “feel bad” for calling homosexuality a sin according to God’s word. We have no reason to feel ashamed for thinking that as God’s word is very plain on the subject.
Incorrect fault finding more often than not revolves around persons and personalities rather than principles, whereas correct fault finding revolves around principles no matter what persons or personalities are involved. The fault found in Christ’s followers here revolved around whether hands were washed or not, not whether or not the food was blessed and sanctified by God through prayer. (I Timothy 4:4-5) At other times, Christ Himself was faulted by others for visiting certain types of people – like going to Zaccheus’ house in Luke 19. Rather than focus on what Christ did while with Zaccheus (principles of action), they focused on the man himself.
People can find any number of faults with churches as a reason not to either attend or join. I have heard people say any number of the following: “they’re just a bunch of sinners,” “churches are full of hypocrites,” “I don’t know what my wife would say,” “they don’t have anything for my kids,” etc. All of these “faults” miss the main mark of correct fault finding through principles. Rather than focus on the people that are there or what this body can or cannot do for you from your perspective, what is the principle that should be viewed? Is the church the pillar and ground of the truth, and should she be worth attending, standing with, and contending for? Scripturally speaking, the answer is yes, yes, and yes. (Hebrews 10:25, Jude 3) We should earnestly contend for the faith, and part of that is through regular attendance in the assembling of ourselves together for the cause of Christ.
People in the church can find any number of faults with others in the church, and I have heard any number of the following: “the deacons run the church,” “that preacher preaches too long,” “people don’t care what I think,” “I just can’t get along with so-and-so,” etc. Again, all of these faults revolve around people rather than principles worth contending for. Most of the “gripes” that people – self included – find ourselves caught in are housed in the realm of non-essential matters. How things are “run” in the church matters more in the sense that it is done decently and orderly than who the person is doing it. The length of a minister’s sermon is less important than the attendance of the Spirit is throughout the discourse. Differing personalities should take several backseats to the attention of heavenly things that members of the body should be focused on.
In the realm of correct fault finding, we see the opposite come true so often. If something is worth contending for principally, then it needs pointing out. Paul pointed out to Corinth that they had a fault among them that merited swift action to the point of exclusion with the fornicator. (I Corinthians 5) Today, as it likely has always been, matters of church discipline are either excused or ignored by many out of fear, misguided affection, pride, etc. Perhaps one of the most egregious forms this takes is when someone is offended with someone else. If the fault is a correct one, then one has due diligence before him to take the steps laid out in Matthew 18. However, though people may have correct faults with one another, they get handled incorrectly by either talking to others about it or just stewing over the matter rather than exercise Scriptural diligence.
Beloved, as frail creatures of dust, we will no doubt be sure to find fault with one another if we are looking for it. Whether or not the fault is a correct one or not will not matter to the fault seeker. The Pharisees and others were so interested in finding faults with Jesus and His followers that they would stoop to anything that worked in their minds. However, their own decorum showed – and was pointed out by the Master – that they were at great fault for what they did and what they omitted. We should not be looking for faults in people but seeking to uphold the principles of the Master.
If that be our course and direction, we will not find the trifling matters with and against one another. Furthermore, the only way others will find fault with us is like with Daniel and it be with our religion. (Daniel 6) The difference between the Master and His followers is that they could only find incorrect faults with Him, whereas we may find correct fault in ourselves and others. So, let us strive to be only found in fault by the world in an incorrect way, and not have correct faults that injure our brethren and shame our Master’s name. May it be so with us that we fault principles rather than personalities and look for heavenly blessings rather than earthly problems.