Today’s Reading: Jeremiah 23:16-29
“Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you, filling you with vain hopes. . . they say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’ ; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’ ” (Jeremiah 23:16–17)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Again, we see how seriously God warns us about the dangers of false prophets. Jesus said, “You will recognize them by their fruits” (Matthew 7:16). One fruit of false teachers is that they are quick to tell you what you want to hear. The hard thing about speaking the truth is that sometimes folks don’t want to hear it. Paul warned young Timothy, “The time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from the truth. . . ” (2 Timothy 4:3–4). Any pastor who tries to preach and teach God’ s truth as revealed in Holy Scripture quickly encounters those with itching ears who will reject him for his message. And immediately following that, he is faced with the intense temptation of the flesh to tell people what they want to hear in order to avoid suffering and be liked by all.
That is why Paul exhorted Timothy to “be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort with complete patience and teaching” (2 Timothy 4:2). God’s truth demanded that Timothy do unpleasant things like reproving, rebuking, and exhorting. Our challenge is that God’s Word says things we don’t want to hear. No one enjoys being reproved or rebuked. But as unpleasant as it is, you need your sins exposed, or else you will go on in your sins, despising God’s Word, and stubbornly following your own heart, all the while thinking “all is well with me” and “no disaster shall befall me.”
What you need is a faithful preacher, willing to speak the truth, not false teachers telling you what you want to hear. Salvation is not a vain hope in yourself; it is sure hope in Christ crucified and risen for you. Faithful preachers are willing to say the hard words to you, so that you will be ready to receive the good words in faith. And the good Gospel words are these: “It shall be well with you IN CHRIST,” and, “No disaster shall befall you IN CHRIST.” In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Preach you the Word and plant it home To men who like or like it not, The Word that shall endure and stand When flow’ rs and men shall be forgot. (“Preach You the Word” LSB 586, st.1)
-Rev. Jeffrey Ware is pastor of All Saints Lutheran Church in Charlotte, NC.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Christians need to aspire to being people of THE faith. Not just any will do. In Faith Misused, Dr. Alvin Schmidt shares his case for a Christian reclaiming of the word “faith” from its ambiguous modern uses. Now available from Concordia Publishing House.