SCRIPTURE: Ezekiel 33
As for you, son of man, your people are talking together about you by the walls and at the doors of the houses, saying to each other, ‘Come and hear the message that has come from the LORD.’ My people come to you, as they usually do, and sit before you to hear your words, but they do not put them into practice. Their mouths speak of love, but their hearts are greedy for unjust gain. Indeed, to them you are nothing more than one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays an instrument well, for they hear your words but do not put them into practice. [Ezekiel 33:30-32]
Sometimes I wonder whether good preaching is like this passage, that people flock to where they can hear a great communicator, but do not really intend to change based on what they hear.
One who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays the instrument well…
Is this what motivates me to speak, so that people will come to me and enjoy my preaching, and spread the word so that more people come.
My job is not to be an eloquent speaker, but to be a faithful watchman, one who encourages as God encourages, and warns as God warns.
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. [John 2:23-25]
Crowds of people responded to Jesus’ message, and yet so many did not want to do what Jesus spoke about.
Jesus knows that the people are flocking to a great and powerful teacher, but He also knows what their motivation and heart is.
He did not entrust Himself to them… or He did not count on them as His followers, for He knew how fickle their loyalty was.
He was to them like one who sings love songs with a beautiful voice and plays the instrument well…
Our job is not to convince people, or to change them; our job is to tell people about God, Jesus, justice and mercy.
After that, what they do with that message is between them and God.
And God’s purpose is not to punish them, but to lead them to repent.
Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, people of Israel?’ [Ezekiel 33:11]
This is what we are called to communicate, that justice requires that we be punished while mercy pleads with us to repent, and opens the way for us to repent.
How many churches are filled with people who like the sound of the messenger, but do not do what they say?
How many people are eager to listen to great sermons, but not eager to live them?
Lord, help me to be a listener that obeys. Help me be a speaker that is faithful watchman, not just an eloquent communicator.