Have you ever reacted to a preacher during a sermon? I have heard messages and found myself rejecting what is being said, or better said, the person that is saying it. Why is that?
Sometimes it is just the fact that the truth is always difficult to swallow when you are not in alignment with it. Someone said, “The truth will set you free, but first it must make you miserable”. The Bible is God’s truth and confronts our lifestyles and motives when we hear it proclaimed accurately and clearly.
Even though the truth may sting and make me uncomfortable I still want preaching and teaching based squarely on the Bible; usually that means my heart is convicted of sin and that is not a pleasant experience. But it is a necessary one if I am to be changed into the character of Christ.
However, there’s another cause for my hesitancy to receive truth that has nothing to do with my response to the message. It is my dislike of the messenger as he delivers it. This is unrelated to the content of the sermon, but the spirit and attitude of the preacher.
When I sense arrogance in a speaker, I want to shut out what they are saying. I don’t write this lightly because I am sure I have done the same after preaching thousands of messages to people. It makes me pause and reflect on my attitude and spirit as I preach. Someone wrote, “You can’t preach the love of Christ with a clenched fist”.
While some pastors don’t communicate pride non-verbally, they do verbally with a spirit of superiority rather than dispensing the truth graciously and humbly. It is possible to have a correct position with a sweet disposition. Also, it’s possible to have a nice disposition and have the wrong position. One of my prayers for our church is that God give us strength in our stand, but kindness and humility in our presentation of God’s truth.
It’s true that people don’t react to what you say near as much as how you say it. We don’t receive what someone has to say to us if we detect pride in them.
This is a problem in the home, too. When our children or spouse sense pride in us from a condescending voice they reject what we say, even if it is right and helpful. Love will not behave this way. When Paula and I have a difference and our fellowship is broken it is often because of this very issue; I haven’t spoken humbly, but rashly and harshly.
The Bible says that “charity is not puffed up” (I Corinthians 13:4). The words “puffed up” mean “to be proud, arrogant, and haughty”. It is a picturesque word with the idea of a balloon being inflated. This refers to the attitude of one that has an inflated view of his person and abilities.
Love is not conceited, but humble. A “puffed up” person cannot love people because he loves himself. The first step to learning to love is to deal with our pride.
When our spirit is infected with pride people reject our words. It’s something that a leader or a parent simply cannot afford since giving direction (which involves speaking) is the essence of their role.
In the next several posts I’ll give some simple, practical truths from the Bible about dealing with personal pride that we might learn to love others – and that they would know it. It will make us better parents, spouses, and siblings. Genuine love makes everything around it better.
Today, be attentive to not only what you are saying, but how you are saying it. It will make all the difference in whether it is received or not by the person to whom you are speaking.