Teaching With Integrity
Paul never succumbed to the temptation to shape his message to cater to his hearers’ tastes, and neither must we.
It is always tempting to temper what we say to avoid the prejudices or tickle the fancies of those we’re speaking to, whether we’re speaking from a platform or over a meal table. But if we are going to be honest stewards of the message given to us in the Bible, then our teaching and speaking about it needs to be marked by integrity.
Faithfulness to all of Scripture’s teaching is crucial. Scripture itself warns us that false teachers will arise and tell people what their itching ears want to hear (2 Timothy 4:3). Times will come when people turn away from sound teaching, instead seeking out voices that don’t challenge them with biblical truth but simply reinforce their own views.
Paul spent more than two years teaching among the Ephesians, publicly and privately, and his message was always pure, open, and straightforward. It didn’t matter where he was or who his hearers were; what he knew to be profitable—the proclamation and application of God’s word—was what he brought.
If someone had come from one of Paul’s addresses and was asked, “What did Paul say today?” the response must always have included sentences like these: “He said that we’re supposed to turn in repentance toward God. We need to forsake our sins. We are to trust in Jesus as our only Savior. He really challenged me, but he really encouraged me.” No matter where you met him and no matter when you heard him, Paul always got to the heart of the gospel. His life and ministry were gospel-centered. He was not willfully offensive or obnoxious, but at the same time, he did not shrink from saying hard but necessary things.
The day will come, if it has not already, when you will be tempted to soften the message of God’s word—tempted to loosen your convictions in order to make the warnings, promises, and commands of Scripture seem more palatable to those in your hearing. How will you respond when this day comes? Will you shrink from declaring God’s message, as so many around Paul did? Or will you follow the example of the apostle by declaring the truth plainly, trusting that it will bring glory and honor to the Lord, and remembering that what people want to hear is not always or often the same as what they need to hear—what is profitable to them?
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Preach the Word
1I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3For the time is coming when people will not endure sound1 teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
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