For Its Own Sake!

F. W. Schwartz

There is a rather old story to this effect: Two Christians meet. One has just listened to a rather popular preacher. He tells his friend how very much he has enjoyed hearing him and adds "I will you too had heard him; I am sure you would not enjoy any other preacherafterward." "If that is so," replied the other (a wiser man), "I have no desire ever to hear him; the kind of preacher I want to hear is the one who will help me so to esteem the Word of God that I shall be eager to hear it and find delight in it whenever it is preached."

This well illustrates a tendency which, unfortunately, is widespread in our day. Too many of us, where preaching is concerned, are much like the child who will not take his food unless it is served in a particular dish. Our tastes have become so "cultivated" (?) that we find it difficult to endure what in other days we might have relished and profited by. We are so concerned as to how the truth is "served" that we no longer appreciate it for its own sake!

There is, of course, no excuse for preaching like that which someone described as "without form and void-darkness was upon the face of it," The preacher should by all means try to present the truth in "acceptable words." But when this has been said it must still be admitted that men may be loyal to the truth, and quite capable of giving worth-while, heart-searching and truly profitable ministry, though they do not "appeal" to some of us as others might. And to assume, because a man's manner or diction are not what we are pleased to approve of, that he may not at times be listened to with definite profit, is to cast a reflection, not only upon the man, but upon the Divine Giver of the "gifts."

Are we at liberty to conclude that God gives His messages only to a select few? Shall we, in effect, dictate to Him as to how or through whom He shall minister His Word in blessing to us? If He chooses to speak through a herdman or a' fisherman, shall we refuse His Word?

We have, it is true, sometimes been grieved at the temerity of men who dared to put themselves forward without having anything to offer which might profit their hearers. And we have blushed at the crude things that have sometimes been foisted upon unsaved listeners in gospel meetings. But, on the other hand, we have been gratified (both in conferences and elsewhere) at the thought-provoking, edifying, stirring ministry given by brethren whom some might have been willing to ignore. They hadevidently been exercised before the Lord as to their message, and it reached our hearts. It would have been a pity if opportunity bad been denied them.

Certainly care must be taken not to encourage misfits. But it is equally important that we do not do our choosing on a basis of personal tastes or cultural preferences alone. The plate has its use and should be of a suitable kind, but it is the food (.hat meets the need. In our insistence upon good china, let us not miss the nourishment that is brought to us. Let us value the Word of God ministered - for its own sake!

(Reprinted from "Light and Liberty")