No doubt you have heard people say, “Why be so negative all the time?” when you have tried to warn them about some false doctrine, teacher, or compromising leader. It seems to happen with increasing frequency today. You, too, may be thinking the same thing, even though you may never have expressed it to anyone. So, perhaps a careful look at this question and the attitude of mind which prompts it is in order.
First, it is important to realize that if someone says you are too negative, he is by that very statement being negative toward you. We have often read or listened in amazement while someone would verbally rip us up one side and down the other because we were “too negative and unloving”; yet, they were far more negative and unloving to us than we have ever been toward false prophets and compromising teachers. So often such people go on to tell us that we should not “judge” but just preach a positive message and let the Lord take care of the “wolves” that are seeking to destroy the flock. Rather strange thinking, and hypocritical, isn’t it? Don’t be negative toward the “wolves in sheep’s clothing” but do be negative toward faithful under-shepherds who seek to warn and protect the sheep. You can be sure of one thing—this is man’s reasoning and not God’s!
Second, why have we allowed ourselves to be brainwashed into believing that it is negative, bad, and unloving to warn someone of potential or impending danger? Is it too negative and unloving to awaken a neighbor in the middle of the night if his house is on fire? If you are about to drink poison, thinking it is medicine, is it too negative and unloving if someone even goes so far as to snatch the bottle from your grasp and force you to examine the contents before drinking it? Do we consider dentists “too negative and unloving” when they warn against decay and infection and insist on good dental hygiene? You know the answer! In the physical realm, we appreciate and honor these who warn others of dangers of one kind or another. But strangely, in the spiritual realm, the exact opposite is true. Those who warn about the wiles of the devil and expose the wolves in sheep’s clothing are all too often labeled “too negative and unloving.”
In the final analysis, however, the real issue is this: What does the Bible tell us to do? Are we always to be positive and never negative? Can we become too negative? Consider the fact that most of the Ten Commandments are “negative,” i.e., “Thou shalt not.” Does that make God “too negative and unloving”? Jesus Christ had more to say about hell than about heaven. Does that make Him “too negative and unloving”? No one could have been more concerned about the spiritual welfare of all men than our blessed Lord. Yet, He used the strongest possible negative language regarding the false religious leaders of His day, i.e., “hypocrites, blind, blind guides, fools, whited sepulchers, serpents, generation of vipers,” etc. The apostle Paul was one of the great missionaries, pastors and evangelists of all time. Yet, God used him to pen some of the strongest, most “negative” words in the Bible. Why? Because God knows that men need the negative as well as the positive. God knows what many people today have forgotten—that preaching only a “positive” message opens the floodgates of error and leaves the sheep defenseless against Satan and his “angels of light.” It is Satan who promotes the idea that a faithful under-shepherd of the flock is “too negative and unloving” when he goes after the “wolves” and exposes the shepherds whose voices are either silent in the face of danger or who actually welcome the wolves into the flock!
Of course, we must be on guard lest we do become too negative about everything all the time. There are plenty of “positive” things on which to dwell, and we must always speak the truth in love. Yet, we must not forget that it was King Ahab’s sin, not Micaiah’s “negativism,” which caused the wicked king to hate God’s faithful prophet. If we are living in the last days (and we believe we are), then we may expect sin to become more bold, more deceptive, and more widespread. In such circumstances, it may indeed seem to some that we are “too negative,” but do we dare remain silent just to please our brethren or must we answer to God?
Of course, the spirit of our day is: “Be positive! Accept everyone’s teachings without question! Never pass judgment on anyone!” But this is a false, Satanic philosophy. The idea that “anything goes” is theologically and morally of the devil. And, if I have to choose between the person who is “too negative” or the one who is never negative, then give me the “too negative” person. He may offend me at times; he may even be wrong on occasion. But he may save my life or keep me from going up blind alleys. On the other hand, the person who is never negative may never offend me, but my house may go up in smoke with me in it while he goes on being “positive only.”
May God help us to be and continue to be negative about everything God says we should be negative about. May we not be duped by Satan nor cajoled by men into accepting the false philosophy of “always positive” in order to “win friends and influence people.”
— M. H. Reynolds Jr. [Originally published in the “FEA News & Views,” Sept-Oct 1978]
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