The Danger of Eloquence: Mistaking Words for Deedsby A.W.Tozer on September 4, 2018
Eloquence can very possibly be a snare, both for the eloquent and their audience. Both can be decieved into equating eloquence with godliness. It's not our eloquence that reveals who we trully are. It's the choices we make, how we live our lives and how we relate to others. Jesus said "You will
know them by their fruit", not by their eloquence.
There are few things in religious circles held in greater esteem than eloquence. Yet there are few things of less actual value or that bring with them greater temptation or more harm.
One qualification everyone expects a preacher to have is the ability to discourse fluently on almost any religious or moral subject. Yet such ability is at best a doubtful asset and unless brought to Christ for cleansing may easily turn out to be the greatest enemy the preacher faces here below. The man who finds that he is able to preach on a moment's notice should accept his ability as an obstacle over which he must try to get victory before he is at his best for God and His kingdom.
The genuine philosopher, Epictetus used to say, was not one who had read Chrysippus and Diogenes and so could discourse learnedly on the teachings of these men, but one who had put their teachings into practice. Nothing else would satisfy him. He refused to call any man a philosopher who showed evidence of pride, covetousness, self-love or worldly ambition.
Epictetus was not impressed by eloquence or learning. It was a waste of time for the student to recite the list of books he had read. What has your reading done for you? he asked his students, and looked not to their words but to their lives for the answer. He required of the young men who sought him out that they bring their lives into immediate harmony with the Stoic doctrines. If you don't intend to live like a philosopher, don't come back, he told them bluntly. He drew a sharp distinction between a philosopher in fact and a student of philosophy, and would have nothing to do with the mere student. With him it was all or nothing. There was no middle ground.
This is not to advocate the teachings of the Stoics, but to assert that many of the heathen in their blindness appear to have more light than some Christians and that the children of this world often show more real wisdom than some of the children of God. For the snare Epictetus warned against is the very one into which multitudes of professed Christians are falling, viz., mistaking the word for the deed and falsely assuming that if they know the teaching of the Christian faith they are therefore in that faith.
Prayer: "Search me, O God, and know my heart....and see if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." Psalm 139: 23,24