Preachers have a very solemn responsibility. They are to “preach the word” (2 Timothy 4:2). They are to “speak the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). They are to proclaim “all the counsel of God” (Acts 20:27). In doing this, the key is to make application of the Scriptures to the lives of those to whom he preaches. Hearers must be more than hearers. They must be “doers of the Word” (James 1:22-25). This is why preachers must apply the Word of God to the best of their ability.
When application of the Word to the lives of the hearers is made, it often gets the dander of the hearer up. Another way of putting it is: “It gets his feathers up.” The simple way of saying it is that people get angry when they hear the Word of God applied to their lives. It is interesting how some react when their dander is up. Some will immediately confront the minister about his message. Others will storm out of the building without saying a word. Some will say nothing to the preacher, but will say a lot of negative things about the message to others. Still others will cease being a friend of the preacher. In some cases, preachers have been fired because they raised the dander of the members.
One of the common reactions to preaching in the past involves anger. Jesus’ words often caused some to get angry. In John 6, Jesus set forth some very difficult doctrines. The opening verse of John 7 tells us: “After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him.” Stephen also raised the dander of the Jews in Jerusalem. “When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth… Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears and ran upon him with one accord, and cast him out of the city, and stoned him…” (Acts 7:54, 57-58). Paul was another preacher who raised the dander of some of his hearers. In Philippi, Paul upset the masters of a woman possessed with a spirit of divination. The Bible says these men “brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, and teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. And the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely” (Acts 16:20-23).
Why do sermons get some people’s dander up? The main reason is because the sermon opposes them. It opposes their beliefs. It opposes their behavior It opposes their long-held practices. It opposes someone in their family. Another reason some get angry is because the message involves the need to change. People do not like change. They are happy where they are. Change is often difficult and extremely uncomfortable. Still others get upset because the message is misunderstood or the message is misapplied. Basically, when a sermon tells someone that he is wrong, the dander goes up. Why? People do not like to be told they are wrong.
James knew that the Word of God can cause individuals to get angry and upset. He, therefore, gives counsel about this in James 1:18-20. He writes: “Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: for the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” James begins by noting the AIM of Scripture, “that we should be a kind of firstfruit of his creatures.” He then points out the ANSWER man is to have to Scripture. He should be swift to hear. He should be slow to speak out against it. He should be slow to be angry with the truth. In verse 20, he teaches us about the ACCRUAL of anger. “For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.” Anger keeps a person from becoming righteous before God. A person’s anger does not drive him to the truth. It keeps him from the truth. As long as truth is rejected, a person remains unrighteous.
When we hear a message from God’s Word that gets our dander up, we need to take note. Listen to what is said. Try to truly understand. Confirm all that is said with the Word of God. Do not speak out quickly against the message. This just puts one further at odds with God’s truth. Keep a check on your anger. Anger is a dangerous emotion. It can lead to sinful attitudes, words, and actions. If the message is true, APPLY it. This was the instruction of James in James 1:21-25. “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls. But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For is any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural fact in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
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