Thursday, July 16, 2009

Preaching to itchy ears

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
2 Timothy 4:3 (NIV)

A man was once complaining to me about preachers he called “ear-ticklers.” He specified a couple of popular radio preachers whom he believed were afraid to offend their listeners. He was oblivious to the irony of the fact that they offended him.

There were certain sins that were particularly offensive to him and he liked to hear preachers let those people have it. He did not consider that he was having his own ears tickled.

He was like the Sunday school teacher who, after teaching a lesson about the Pharisee and the tax collector, prayed, “Lord, we thank you that we are not like the Pharisee.”

As sermon listeners we can become blinded to our own self righteous. If we are not challenged by the preacher, maybe our ears are being tickled. Or, maybe, we’re not listening.

There was a preacher who targeted all his sermons at one very self-righteous man. Each Sunday the man would shake the preachers hand and say, “You sure let them have it today.”

The preacher was at a loss as to how to get through to the man. He had done everything but call him by name. One Sunday, a terrible storm kept everyone away, except this man who had never missed church a day in his life. The preacher had him!

He rebuked and admonished working up a sweat as the thunder punctuated his sentences and the gloom added to the drama. The man sat there in rapt attention nodding in agreement. At the end he shook the preachers hand and said, “Best sermon ever. I wished they would have been here to hear it.”

Pray for your preacher to bring the Word of God and sound doctrine. Listen, God may be speaking to you. Act when the Spirit stirs you.

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