2000-10-30 - Talking About Minsters
Romans 10:14,15 "How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, 'How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things!'"
"Mom," said a four year old boy in church one Sunday, "who is going to preach today?" "Mr. M____, I think. Why do you ask?" replied the mother. "Because if that minister preaches, I think I will get up and walk out of church."
Now, we might think that this little four year old didn't respect ministers, or had little respect for the house of God. The boy had never heard the preacher speak before, so why would he say this? Why would he have such an unfavorable impression of the man?
He was simply repeating what he had heard. The day before his mom had been out with a neighbor and friend, and the little boy was with them. When the women began to speak of the service they were to attend the following day, and it came out that Mr. M_____ was going to preach, one of the ladies said, "O! I am so sorry that Mr. M____ is going to preach. He is a miserable preacher. He is so dull and stupid that I can't stand listening to him." The women thought nothing of the remark, but the next day, when it was time to worship, the little boy remembered the comment.
Was Mr. M_____ a miserable preacher? No, he was a serious, praying man who tried to faithfully preach the gospel. No one doubted it, but he was also not a man of great eloquence. His style was not as polished as some might have liked. But he did preach the gospel and he preached it faithfully and seriously, as well as he knew how. However, this impression of the man was left upon the child. The child might never, for as long as Mr. M_____ preached, listen with any seriousness to his words.
Many people go to church like they go to the movies, or the theater. We are prone to talk about the preaching, often, more than we are to think about it. And maybe if we were talking less, and thinking more we might have something useful to say, or at least we can be silent. There is always something good in a sermon. Why not dwell on the good parts. I never like rules, but a good one might be to never speak of a sermon, or preaching, except to draw out that which is good and helpful.
There is a story of a preacher who related that once in his youth he had been greatly moved by a sermon that he had heard. But he lost all his reflective thoughts when he heard his parents speak ill of the preacher. There is another account of a woman who grew up and left the church, her two younger sisters, however, were faithful Christians. When asked what the difference was, the answer was that when she was younger her parents had made a habit of mocking the preaching in her presence, and she had caught their spirit and now applied it to everything religious. But her parents had noticed their mistake and in front of her younger sisters had always spoken with reverence concerning the preaching they heard.
There are some lessons here. A critical spirit is something that others, not just kids, easily catch. I know I have been very guilty of it, and I am resolved to try to do better. How awful to think that others may have caught my negative spirit toward so and so, and then, later, missed out on something that could have been an advantage to them. That certainly was not the goal of my negative comments, I am sure I meant my words in the most helpful, and insightful way, but I wonder, what really were the results? Maybe, I don't want to know. Speaking well of another is not easy to do, in fact it is often easier to cut down, than to build up. But we must ask ourselves, which is more useful to the Lord and which is more pleasing to Him.
Soli Deo Gloria,