I had just returned home from one of my very first preaching ventures as a 16 year old Evangelist. Dad had risked his reputation and friendship with one of his fellow pastor friends by asking him to give me a shot at preaching in his pulpit. Dad was a great booking agent and went for a primetime spot on the program. Dad convinced that pastor that I was ready for a Sunday Morning opportunity. Looking back on that occasion, I can only imagine what a risk that must have been for that pastor. Fortunately, everything turned out alright. I preached, pounded and perspired for almost twenty minutes. I’m sure the content was lacking but it was energetic to say the least.
I recall someone’s question to me upon my return home. “Did you preach ‘em happy, Boy?”
I’m sure that individual was sincere with his question and just wanted to know that the Lord had used me to bless the poor people subjected to my fledgling efforts. What a question though. “Did you preach ‘em happy?”
45 years since that first sermon, that individuals question makes me stop and ponder, “Is that really any ministers responsibility-Preaching folks “happy?”
Every preacher wants their sermons to at least be appreciated, if not entirely “liked” by the hearer. However, Paul’s charge to Timothy about preaching and it’s content, indicates that a congregation’s listening pleasure isn’t necessarily the aim and won’t always be accomplished.
2 Timothy 4:2 "Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.”
Few if any, step into the line for reproving and rebuking. The lines do get long however, for shallow meandering that’s short on scripture and long on platitudes bent on tickling the ears of a culture gone mad with compromise and blatant rebellion. Soft peddling sin and blurring the lines seems to be more popular now.
Paul further elaborated on his instruction to Timothy in chapter 4:3-5, when he wrote, “The time will come when people 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.They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.”
A Charge To Preach
What a challenge for a young, aspiring preacher to be given. I don’t think Paul was at all concerned about preaching anyone happy. He was more intent on “preaching ‘em” toward holy living and a lifestyle that pleases Jesus.
Whether you preach in a pulpit or your sermon is a daily life lived out before others, stay focused on the gospel. Yes, preach it with love, compassion and tears but never compromise truth.
Paul’s charge to Timothy in 2 Timothy chapter 4:5 is also my prayer for you… “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.”
Preaching anyone happy about their compromised life is never the aim but preaching to ignite personal revival should always be the goal.
Timothy M. Hill