Preaching God’s word to God’s people is often a lonely job. It shouldn’t be, but often it is because it requires telling people what they should do and how they should live when they don’t want to. The apostle Paul made an interesting statement in Galatians 4:16. He wrote, “Am I therefore your enemy because I tell you the truth?” He said this after remembering how the Galatians were blessed and overjoyed when he gave them the gospel. They received his word as if he were an angel of God. He said they treated him as well as if he were Jesus Christ. Then he added they would do anything for him, even if he asked for their eyes, they would pluck them out. What caused their attitude to change and made them think of Paul as their enemy? He called them on their sin and told them they had returned to the weak and beggarly elements of the law. He said they had turned back to the bondage they escaped. He called them on it and then he wasn’t as popular as he was before.
This happens too many times to the pastor of the church. Most love him and support him and will do anything for him until he takes on his friends and tells them they need to change. He sees them turn to old ways and they aren’t as enthusiastic about the church as they once were. When he tells them the truth, it goads them, and listening isn’t fun anymore.
The truth is, when the pastor comes down on your sins in his sermons and when he steps on your toes, it is never to harm you. He is a friend that loves you and wants you to be blessed and prosperous because you follow Christ. His years are filled with the experience of Christians that gradually dropped out of service—the same people who thought they never would.
The enemy of truth is the one who refuses to hear truth. One author wrote the enemies of truth refuse to hear in two forms: not listening to someone tell the truth or refusing to accept it. Accepting truth requires repentance. It means you are wrong, and you need to change your ways. It means you must go against your flesh, to reject the old nature and to live within the new. In Galatians 5:17, the apostle wrote: “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary…” Simply stated, to refuse truth and not correct errors is to reject the Holy Spirit. Am I your enemy if I tell you not to reject the Spirit? Your best friend is the one who tells you, “If you live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live. For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.” (Romans 8:13-14).
Be careful of the way you respond to truth. The way you react may tell you more than you want to know. Either way, when you hear the truth, it is always a friend who tells it. He is not your enemy. He is the guardian of your soul.
Pastor V. Mark Smith