2 Timothy 4:3 (NAS): For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires,
Know the Value of Reflection
Truer words have not been written, for so little introspection in return. The passage above suggests the accumulation of ear ticklers will be the reality for many. Yet not many critically consider their own ears.
Can we safely assume that our preaching preferences come from our heads and not from our itching ears?Tweet
It’s only natural to assume that our own pastor is not and ear tickler. But the accumulation of these teachers usually doesn’t rise to the level of conscious intent. So let’s briefly consider whether it’s our hearts that burn or if it’s our ears that itch.
Reflecting On The Content Of Preaching
An inexhaustible source of tickling can be found in these three areas.
1) The validation of the presence of toxic relationships as a sign that God is calling you to greatness. This is the all too familiar haters who hate because you’re great. Though biblically unfounded, this can be heard regular to the delight of many on their way to greatness. Though sin is toxic, the pulpit has endorsed a whole new level of sinner, to justify our failing relationships.
2) The permission to end all burdensome relationships with those who cannot ascend to the same heights of success to which we have been promised. This one tickles because we all want to take the easy way out and “close the door” on the difficult task of loving the unlovable. All we need is permission from a trusted authority figure, or well chosen ear tickler. Jesus’ example was to love the unlovable and take us to glory with Him.
3) The victory, measured in personal happiness and wellbeing, is near to you and near to God’s heart for you, and just the right step will bring you into its abundance and overflow. And how to take that next step is always the topic of the day’s sermon. This victory motif promises the rewards of the kingdom in this present evil age. It tickles, but it not true.
While this list does not represent the full extend of the tickling, it is sufficient and recognizable enough for us to consider if our ears are itching.
Understand The Preacher
Paul warns the young pastor in Ephesus that these ears will turn from the truth because it is not in accordance with their own desires.
Well, the truth is that our growth is measured by our enduring relationships and our ability to forgo personal happiness and wellbeing for the glory of God.
In his wonderful book entitled, Under the Unpredictable Plant, Eugene Peterson says,
A successful writer will discover a workable plot and write the same book over and over all his life to the immense satisfaction of his readers. The reader can be literary without thinking or dealing with truth. Prostitute writer.
A successful preacher can also discover a workable sermon plot and preach the same message again and again to the immense satisfaction of his listener’s ears. The listener can be spiritual without thinking or dealing with truth. Prostitute preacher.
Listen Critically To Sermons That Appeal To You
Before I started this post, I considered my own intentions. What did I expect to accomplish? My desire is for reflection. I want to encourage that, “be still and know”, moment. My hope is that you, the reader, will begin to listen more critically to the sermons that so appeal to you. And ask yourself, is my heart burning from the recognition of truth, or are my ears itching from my own desires turning me from truth. Consider, reflect, and know I’m praying that you have ears to hear. Blessings.