WHO ARE YOU HELPING?
Someone wrote, “As a rule, there is more wisdom in holding up the right than in denouncing the wrong. Doubtless the latter must sometimes be done; but he who makes denunciation the staple of his preaching, makes a mistake. Often, the only way to reprove error, is to plant the truth beside it and then quietly let it grow.” I found this quote among some of my notes the other day. I don’t know where it came from, I failed to make a note of that. What I do know is that these words, should be read, pondered, taken to heart, and perhaps inscribed on the fly leaf of many a preacher’s Bible.
A popular song of years gone by advised the listener to:
“Accentuate the positive,
and negate the negative,
latch on to the affirmative,
spread joy up to the maximum,
bring gloom down to the minimum,
have faith, or pandemonium,
Is liable to walk upon the scene.
There is some good counsel for preachers, especially pastors, in these lyrics. And its biblically-based counsel. Consult a Bible concordance and be reminded of how important the comfort, peace, joy and edification of God’s people are to Him. He wants the minds of His children to be full of thoughts that are clean, positive, joyous and strong. “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things” (Phil.4:8).
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power,
and ove love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).
We live in a world that naturally negates the positive and accentuates the negative; that minimizes joy and maximizes gloom. Preaching needs to do something to offset all the negativism and gloom that people are exposed to throughout the week. Pastors need to pray and study to give their people preaching that will help them “latch on to the affirmative” and “have faith.” They need to give their people sermons that will help them, in the words of another old secular song, to stay “On the Sunny Side of the Street.” If we don’t “pandemonium, is liable to walk upon the scene” of their lives in the form of depression and doubts and frustrations and fears.
I know that preachers are commanded to “reprove,” “rebuke” and “exhort,” but we’re to do it “with all longsuffering” (2 Tim. 4:2). The Bible does say in 1 Corinthians 16:13 “Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like me, be strong,” but it also says in verse 14, Let all your things be done with charity.” Preaching can be strong, fiery, and forceful, condemning sin and calling people to repentance and still come across to the people in a charitable way. But preaching should never come across as the ranting or venting of an ill-tempered man with a score to settle or a bone to pick, or as a hateful harangue. This kind of preaching doesn’t honor God and it doesn’t help anyone, except maybe the devil.