‘Stand Up!’ Meditations No.21: Thoughts on Sharing
Jer 1:17“Get yourself ready! Stand up and say to them whatever I command you.”
Jeremiah is an interesting case study of what it means to be obedient and leave the outcome up to God. He’s told it’s an impossible task he’s being given because his people will not listen to him. His whole book is a record of this: he speaks, they ignore. What’s the point of speaking then? Well, first, if God prompts it’s not for us to start reasoning, we just speak with love, humility, and grace and leave the rest to Him. The long-term aspect is that ‘they’, believer or unbeliever, will have no excuses, they heard from God but for whatever reason, rejected it. That’s their problem. If that sounds hard, it’s not, it’s real, and the Bible is full of it, warnings regardless of whether they are heeded (and He knew so often they wouldn’t be.) No excuses.
But this is easier said than done, especially if you are a preaching leader. You hope the words you are preaching or teaching will impact your congregation for good, leaving them walking taller, more confident in Christ, having a clearer vision of who they are, having a greater assurance of their own gifting and abilities. You may have had a real sense of revelation as you waited on God and received this ‘message’ you felt was going to be life changing. And then after you have delivered it faithfully and under the anointing of the Spirit, the best you get is “Nice message pastor,” and at that moment you feel like Jeremiah.
But then we start to come to a deeper revelation, that unless the Spirit of God has been preparing the hearts of your listeners to create ‘good ground’, there are three out of four chances of your word NOT bearing fruit, according to Jesus’ parable of the Sower and the Seed (Mt 13). Hopefully the same Spirit that has anointed you will be prompting and stirring your listeners, but perhaps there needs to be a lot more prayer preparing your people before they are ready to jump up and down at the wonder of what they have just heard! It is not an easy equation. For the ordinary individual (i.e. not the preacher) the Scriptural encouragement is quite simple and easy: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.” (1 Pet 3:15)
I have over the years watched particular evangelical individuals plough in without gifting to impose the Gospel on others and actually had to say to one person, “Why do you think your brother has refused to talk to you since you shared the gospel with him?” Was it because they failed to note the last four words in that verse above – “with gentleness and respect”? I love listening to gifted evangelists as they share it so effortlessly – but that is gifting. Stand up – within your gifting!