The pursuit of preaching is not preaching. That is idolatry.
The pursuit of preaching is not response or results. That is not only idolatry, but a fool’s errand.
Faithfulness? Yes, but not quite.
Anointing? Yes, but not quite.
The pursuit of preaching is God.
When God is our pursuit in preaching, He will see that we have whom we seek.
Only then will we be in a position for Him to give Himself through us.
“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar.” (Proverbs 30:5-6)
“Every word of God . . . Do not add to his words.” All and only.
Do not doubt, neglect, or fail to believe any word of God. “Every word of God proves true.” “Not one word of all the good promises that the Lord had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass” (Joshua 21:45). “. . . not one word has failed . . . all have come to pass . . . all have been fulfilled for you” (Joshua 23:14-15). “Every word”!
But only God’s word: “Do not add to his words.” Do not canonize your own thoughts. His words—not my thoughts about His words, not my logical deductions about His words, not my applications of His words.
His words – all and only.
His word “proves true.” My words may be “found a liar.” Note the two outcomes: “proves” and “found.” Words are not idle things. Words have consequences. Words determine destinies.
Let God’s word stand. Let my words bow to His.
Why speak God’s Word? Why be faithful to the call to “preach the word”? I ran across this great line by poet Sean Thomas Dougherty. I don’t know much about the author. He spoke the words for himself and other poets. But it strikes me as also deeply appropriate for those who speak God’s Word. Why speak? In his poem “Why Bother?” Dougherty answers:
“Because right now there is someone
with a wound in the exact shape
of your words.”
“For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.” (Hebrews 6:10)
“… there are countless godly, Bible-centered, Christ-proclaiming faithful preachers who expound the Word of God week in week out, year by year, whom God uses greatly in their own congregations even though the wider world has never heard of them.” (Christopher Catherwood, Martyn Lloyd-Jones: His Life and Relevance for the 21st Century, p.118)
Labor on in hope, my brothers!
“‘Do not preach’ – thus they preach – ‘one should not preach of such things; disgrace will not overtake us.’” (Micah 2:6)
The preacher was not appreciated because of his negative message. He observes, “If a man should go about and utter wind and lies, saying, ‘I will preach to you of wine and strong drink,’ he would be the preacher for this people!” (v.11).
There must be no word of censure, only words of indulgence. No words of prohibition, only permission.
But notice, those who denounce the preacher do so using the very medium they denounce—preaching. They censure the preacher for censuring them. They preach at the preacher to cease his preaching.
Is this not the spirit of our age? These days the worst offense anyone could commit would be to ‘preach.’ The very word is offensive and is counted the unpardonable secular sin. Merriam-Webster’s on-line thesaurus lists the first five synonyms of preaching in profoundly negative terms: moralizing, pontificating, interference, kibitzing, meddling.
Preaching (particularly preaching that censures) is, then, preached against. And the irony is lost on those who do so.
“‘Quit your preaching,’ they preach.” (Micah 2:6a, CSB)