"Itching Ears, Needy Hearts"
A preacher of old once remarked, echoing the Apostle Paul, "We live in a generation of people that have itching ears. But I have no commission from God to scratch them!"
"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables" (II Timothy 4:3-4).
The pulpit and the page can become stages, as opposed to holy altars. Fables entertain rather than minister, and those who communicate God's truth must know the difference. Certainly, the Christian preacher and teacher seeks to make his message interesting to hear, as led and enabled by the Holy Spirit. He finds words that faithfully and skillfully explain the truth of Scripture. He illustrates with anecdotes pertinent to his congregation. Emotional content, properly applied, graces his message for the purpose of touching the heart rather than titillating the fascination. This may involve both humor and lament. Most importantly, he realizes his privileged responsibility to proclaim the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, that is, the One who suffered and died for the Gospel the minister proclaims. Such Truth slays any notion of being an entertainer rather than a disseminator of Truth far too serious to place in the hands of an actor.
We do not need the scratching of our ears. We do require the ongoing change of our hearts. Entertainment scratches. True ministry transforms us from fleshly to spiritual. The former feels good, and may seem to meet needs. The latter often hurts, and may even seem to damage. And it may leave our ears itching, even as it sanctifies and redeems. We must nevertheless seek to avoid mere entertainment from the pulpit or the page, whether our calling is to disseminate or receive. We do well to pray for the preachers, teachers, and writers to whom we expose ourselves, that they may know the difference between ministry and entertainment. And we do well to pray the same for ourselves.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God, having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away."
(II Timothy 3:1-6)
Weekly Memory Verse
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.