H. Eaton - Ireland Convention - First Meeting, Tuesday, 2006

Hymns 313, 307

I was here twenty-nine years ago and a few years later, I was working in Belfast with Jacob Kevelighan so I had some experience of the political problems here. A bomb damaged the hall we were in and we visited a friend whose home was damaged by a bomb. We are glad to be living in more peaceful times. We are encouraged to pray for those in authority that we may live a peaceable life.

A friend reminded me of what I spoke here twenty-nine years ago. A family who visited us when I was a child used to call me Timothy. I hated the name because Timothy to me seemed to be a small boy never far away from his mother's apron-strings. His socks were always pulled up and his hair neat and tidy and he would say, "Yes, Mummy. No, Mummy." That wasn't me. I much preferred to be like "Just William" who was always dirty and untidy because he was never out of mischief. Now I wouldn't mind if people called me Timothy. Paul gave Timothy wonderful advice and it is safe to assume that Timothy followed that advice. I have read his letters often and have tried to make them more my thinking and my activity.

Paul wrote to Timothy of being a soldier. My brother was in the Royal Marines and he told me that at their inaugural lecture in the first day in camp, an officer told them, "You're ours. From now on, you have no say in anything. From now on you obey. You have no will of your own. From now on, you are ours." That was what Paul told Timothy. He should be totally committed and dedicated to his master. We have every reason to believe he lived in that way, controlled and moved by the Holy spirit. A good soldier.

We read in the Old Testament of fifty thousand men who kept rank and were not of a double mind. I'd used to think people who kept rank, knew how to march correctly and were always in line. It is more than that. They are people who are subject to discipline. In the army, there are several ranks, privates, sergeants, captains, majors. All have their place and if they step above their rank, they become a very poor soldier. They even may be disciplined for voicing their own opinion or stepping out of rank. I would like to keep rank in this Kingdom of God. God forbid that I would in any way undermine authority. We have heard of those who have responsibility - working up from children to the overseer. I would like to know my place. Not giving advice that cancels the advice given by others, not going about to assert my own authority. Not sowing discord, not causing others to doubt because they have been diligently and conscientiously following advice given by their superiors. These are people who are not double-minded. They were purposed that they were going out to fight and they would get victory. It is good not have to be double hearted. We have heard of the turmoil that can be in our minds until we come to some definite decision. I would like to make it my aim to be single-minded and have one objective.

We were talking around the meal table in Peru and someone was asked if their recent mission had been successful. The reply given was this. What makes a mission successful? It is a successful mission if the relationship of the Workers as individuals with God is right? If their relationship with their companion is as it ought to be and if they have a good relationship with the friends? If, because of the godly way they are living they are living above reproach from the world? That would be a successful mission. I have had missions and several have professed but if I take these conditions as a barometer, I would have to say that my missions have not always been successful. My relationship with God has not been as deep as it ought to have been or even with my companion. I have not always acted wisely with the friends. That doesn't result in successful missions.

It is easy be companionable going on a round of Conventions. We are waited on hand and foot. Served graciously in the dining hall and our laundry is attended to. So much care is lavished upon us. It is a different thing to be a brother in the bach when you have to do your own cooking, cleaning, and shopping. Not that I mind cooking or shopping. But it is different being a brother in the bach when you are on your own and there are no friends around. I was thinking of the Prodigal Son and when he purposed to return to his father. He must have considered that the road back to his father would have passed by his older brother's house. He may have thought that the father would have handed over all responsibility to the older brother. From now on, he would have to knuckle under to him. He wasn't much of a character but he was prepared to do it. The road to the father's house took him past his brother's and this is so for each and every one of us. The road to the presence of God takes us past our brother's house. We can't possibly be right with God if we are not right with our brother and sister or the person that is closest to us. There is a price to be paid. I was thinking of Jacob when he was told by God to return to his father's house. He realised he would have to pass by his brother Esau who had been at enmity with him. He did it in a very graceful and humble way. He did everything he could to appease his brother just like Abigail as we heard. Jacob in his vow had spoken of returning in peace to his father's house. God was willing to do that, but he didn't exclude Jacob from doing his part in making peace possible. He sent presents to Esau and referred to itself as thy servant but referred to Esau as my lord. He humbled himself. Because he did this, unity and peace were brought about in the family.

Humility precedes unity. There was no question of any bargaining chip. Jacob came to his father's house in peace because he was prepared to pay the price for unity. How do we stand in our relationship with those closest to us? Do we do what we ought to do so that peace might reign? When I was a child, my brother and I used to play Monopoly. You have to pass by the property that belongs to your opponent. It seemed to me that my brother always ended up with the best property. He always turned up a lucky chance card but I seemed to get the Go to Jail card. Soon I was bankrupt. We tried to cheat. It was only a game but we have to pass by property that is others' who are in the game with us. So it is in this race of life. It is not a game and there is no cheating.

Romans 13:7, "Render therefore to all....... honour to whom honour." In our relations with people every day, we have to pay up and it is no bargain. We have to pay the price to keep ourselves right with God. Proverbs 25:9 and 29:9, "Debate thy cause.... a secret to another." "If a wise man contendeth..... there is no rest." Jesus said this in Matthew 18:15, "Moreover if thy brother...... and him alone." How many of us do this? We have heard how misunderstandings can create a breach. A lot of problems could be solved if the person went to the other alone. I have tended to bottle things up and disturb myself and everybody else when the remedy was there if I had gone to speak to the person alone. Proverbs 25:10, "Lest he that heareth.... turn not away." If we don't go to the person concerned, the tendency among us is to moan and groan to a third party. The third party might say, "Set your own house in order." If you are not prepared to go to the person's self, don't tell another for that could make the situation worse. Proverbs 25:8, "Go not forth hastily... thee to shame." We may have given a lot of time and thought to a problem and decided to go to speak to him in a graceful and tactful way and say, "What you are doing is an offence to me and I think you are spoiling your own testimony by doing this." He might say, "I know you have my interest at heart but what about working on the beam that is in your own eye."

We have to be concerned about what others do and this is especially so for the ministry but it really comes back to working on ourselves. Leviticus 19:17, "Thou shalt not hate thy brother in thy heart." I do not think for one moment that there is anyone in this tent who hates his brother. "Thou shalt in any wise... rebuke him." That seems to mean that to not rebuke or reprove when it is necessary to do so, would be an expression of hate for your brother. No one likes to think himself better than another but nevertheless there comes a time when correction and advice has to be given. If it is not given, it could be taken as an expression of hate. When Workers in this country have to speak about certain things that need to be attended to and you may not like it, just remember that it is not an expression of hate but one of deep love and affection for those they are speaking to. Proverbs 28:23, “He that rebuketh a man……flattereth with the tongue.” Since I am relatively fit and active it is hard for me to come to terms with my age. I pray for grace to help me keep rank. It has been arranged for me during my home-visit to be in a mission in England.