Tact and Contact

A guest article by my friend now in Heaven, Johnny Ramsey

Johnny Ramsey

Here is an article by one of my heroes in the Faith. Johnny was a true friend who helped me and corrected me when I was a fledgling preacher. I miss his guidance even the stern straight forward criticism I needed so often.

Once Brother Johnny came to listen to me preach in a gospel meeting. He came to me and said, “Joe Boy, you have a great ability, people really want to listen to you.” My head swelled to watermelon proportions for a moment, for he finished his comment with, “Now, if you just had something to say.” Tact was never Johnny Ramsey’s strongest talent. So this article rings extra true to me. I miss you my dear brother.


Johnny Ramsey

Through the years I have been urged to use more tact in preaching. My usual rejoinder has been: “Tact is good but contact is better.” Most folk who pride themselves in being tactful are often compromisers. My observation of human nature causes me to believe that pleas for tact really means: “let us all agree to disagree.” There is no tactful way to let a sinner know that he is a sinner. But, the sooner he knows it the quicker the problem will be attended to. I had much rather meet a man in the Judgment Day, to whom I had tried to teach the Truth than to hide my cowardice behind the facade of “tact” and never challenge his attention with the plain Gospel story. Jesus said “Go teach all nations the gospel.” It is very significant that He did not say: “And be sure to be tactful” One basic reason that the Bible does not stress this matter of tact is that most people have their own personal idea and definition of tact. Often it means: “Don’t bother me with the facts because my mind is already made up.” But, if we value the souls of men we will continue to boldly preach the gospel (Acts 14:1-3). Yes, I am aware of Ephesians 4:15 and its sterling message, “speaking the truth in love.” Paul wrote that to the Ephesians. Yet, when we read Acts 19, the chapter telling of the establishment of the Lord’s work in Ephesus, we learn that Paul was considered very untactful by opponents of Heaven’s way! He was “so uncouth” that enemies of the gospel wanted to kill him. Actually, though, Paul loved their souls more than they did! Love prompts us to preach plainly and with out apology. Yes, love for God; truth, souls and eternal bliss! Our problem today is not the lack of tact, but the absence of contact!

In the business world advertising
gets bolder and bolder. Names of competitors are openly called as soap, automobile, and tobacco companies vie for the dollar. We need not be so naive as to think that someone’s little feelings will be hurt because we document our opposition to error. God and Satan have been in a pitched battle for a long time. We need to unsheathe the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17) and get after it!

Honest people face the facts. Some of the strongest members of the church today were once steeped in error, but someone loved them enough to shock them with plain truth. They searched the Scriptures, found the message and obeyed it. We are all answerable for Truth and need to obey now what we know now. Anyone who teaches in an ugly manner will give answer for that, also. The Devil wants all men to be lost and they shall be forever doomed unless they hear, accept and obey the word of God. If we allow Satan to tie our tongues for fear we might not be tactful, he has won the battle! I have often wondered if the Lord’s famous denunciation of Jerusalem (Matthew 23) was considered tactful by that audience.

I have even pondered a strategic question concerning Paul being thrown out of all those synagogues! Jeremiah was slapped for his lack of tact — in other words he told it like it was and spineless folk could not take it. Everyone who stands for anything will be accused of not being kind or sweet or considerate. I had much rather meet God in Judgment having boldly preached the Truth —regardless of how men received it — than to appear before my Maker and hear my neighbor say: “Old Ramsey was a nice guy but he was so afraid to tell me the will of God that we now stand here condemned to Hell!”

Some folk will even call this article “untactful” but let me ask this burning question: In the parable of the Sower is one word said about how the seed was sown? No! But Jesus did emphasize how men receive it. Therefore, “take heed how you hear” (Luke 8:18). There is no virtue in going to perdition in a good humor. Let’s leave the popularity contests to false teachers.

(taken from BIBLE TREASURES, 1978, page 229-230)

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