Saturday, April 27, 2019

Two Bad Reactions When the Truth Hits Target: Shoot the Messenger or Doctor Shopping

When someone hears something from someone, let's say right from scripture, perhaps an exposition of a passage, so this is from God, His Word, the right response is to listen, acquiesce, humble one's self and obey.  So that's what people do, right?  Nope.  Read through the gospels and see what people do with Jesus.  He tells them the truth, then what do they do?  They attack Him.  He's from Nazareth.  He's Beelzebub.  He's born out of wedlock.  What authority does He have?  None of it has started dealing with what He actually said.  It's going after Him.

Let's say that I'm listening to someone who is telling me the truth.  It's an accurate representation of scripture.  I may not like everything about the person, but what is the right response to hearing the truth?  James 1:19 gives a nice little outline:  swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath.  The truth should be taken to heart and someone should change.

When I tell someone the truth, and then the person attacks me, I know something from that.  The truth itself still stands.  He isn't dealing with what I've said, because it has hit target.

If what I've said is wrong, it's easy.  Tell me how it is wrong.  Go to the passage I've used or referred to or exposed, and show how it's wrong.  Tell me what it really does say.  Humility would give in to scriptural teaching.  That is humbling one's self.  If it relates to the application of the passage, indicate how the application is not following from the passage.  I'm actually happy about that kind of interaction with scripture.  It's basically, let's talk about the Bible.  I'm good with that.  I would expect the person to have done some work, the kind of drilling down that should be expected, not just a superficial opinion or even just what someone else said.

Here's what happens though.  Someone just doesn't like what the passage says.  He doesn't want to change.  Or he just doesn't like being judged by anyone based on a passage.  That doesn't alter the meaning of the passage.  It also doesn't mean that he's not going to be judged by God.

Alright, if someone hears the truth, he can agree.  It doesn't have to be a pound of flesh.  Someone doesn't need to blubber with tears down his face.  "You're right."  And then change.  Stop doing what you're doing.  But here's what happens instead.

Shooting the Messenger

Instead of hearing his message, people shoot the messenger.  In Acts, the authorities throw Peter and John in prison.  They kill Stephen.  It's normal.  With the Apostle Paul, 2 Corinthians and Galatians provide the types of personal attacks people take.  I'm not going to go through all of them, but they often get into his motives, judging him to have said what he did for bad reasons.  They're still not dealing with what he actually says.  It's a kind of deflection out of rebellion.  It's a person who doesn't want to listen or follow through with what he says.

I don't like getting shot as a messenger, but it is to be expected, especially with biblical truth.  There is no light that gets a more harsh reaction than giving people what the Bible says.  The attacks are brutal.  I did not receive them until I started preaching.  Before that I was popular, liked by many.  As long as I didn't tell the truth, I was fine---no opposition, just everyone friends or friendly.

Since becoming a pastor, I get bad treatment all the time.  I've never been treated worse.  I get it from all over.  Jesus said this would be normal.  Read through every gospel, but especially in His instructions to the apostles in places like Matthew 10, Luke 10, and John 14-16.  Men love darkness.  They don't like being exposed.  They want to keep living like they want.  They want to be their own boss.  They are walking after lust and so they, as we see in 2 Peter 3, scoff.  People scoff to protect their own lust.

Jesus says people get it from family too.  Sometimes they're the most harsh and Jesus warns of this too.  During His ministry, He got it from his brothers.  Suffering from family is warned in the gospels by Jesus, but also by Peter in his first epistle.  Jesus said that when they "shoot you," they very often will treat it like they're doing a good deed.  They might think they are.

When I wrote the post published last Wednesday, I got some instant personal attack over it.  I got almost no interaction with the truth. What I wrote was just the truth.  It was important truth, but what did I hear?  Understand that this wasn't in the comment section, but that it was in emails.  He isn't humble.  His tone isn't any good.  He doesn't believe at all in freedom in Christ.  People hate him.  People roll their eyes at him when they see him coming.  He drives people away.  He doesn't have compassion, humility, or love.  He just loves to argue.  He isn't happy unless he's in a fight.  He isn't guiltless himself.  He comes across as sanctimonious.  He's been thrown off multiple blogs.  He himself doesn't show almost any fruit of the Spirit.  I got all those and many more. What about what I wrote?  Almost nothing.

What does all this personal attack, shooting the messenger mean from these people who one would expect are great examples of love themselves?  They would have tremendous tone too!  When someone doesn't deal with the truth, that means that it has hit target.  The attack should be expected.  It is very sad, but it should be expected.  It will happen.  Jesus said it would.

Just as an aside, shooting the messenger is proud.  It is not humble.  Humility is a biblical concept and it relates to a response to God.  People who don't like what God says and shoot the messenger are really not humbling themselves before God.  Go ahead.  You can shoot now.  It's what you do.

I believe the truth doesn't return void back to God.  It always works.  If it is teaching from scripture, it is powerful.  Part of operating by faith is not judging by appearance.  Like God said to Jeremiah, don't be afraid of their faces.  This is par for the course.  I've found it for thirty to forty years now. 

For myself, even if it is from someone that I don't think is completely squared away, if it is the truth, I think I should listen to it.  I'm still going to stand before God based on what His Word says.  That's not going to be the normal reaction to the truth.  Most of the time, they shoot the messenger.

Doctor Shopping

I'll call this spiritual doctor shopping.  Doctor shopping is where someone doesn't hear what he wants from his doctor, so he finds a doctor who will tell him what he wants to hear.  He keeps shopping for a doctor who will tell what he wants until he finds one.  If I go to a doctor, and he tells me what I've got or what he's going to give me in medication, what I want is the truth from him.  I understand not liking what I hear or what I get, but if it's the truth, I can solve whatever the malady is.

I can tell someone the truth from scripture, but someone will look for a preacher that says something different, or at least says that multiple possibilities exist and he can still do what he wants.  In the real world, if someone has the disease, he has the disease.  He can hear something else, but that's not going to change that.  People don't think the same today about scripture, the truth of God's Word.  They think they can choose whatever option they want, but that's not true.  They'll find out someday and it will be worse than any bad decision about a doctor.

Doctor shopping is akin to someone looking for his own counselor.  He "got counsel."  That's something he's supposed to do, right?  But that isn't counsel.  Counsel isn't shopping around until someone hears what he wants.  Counsel includes the opposite of what one wants to hear.  In scripture, the doctor shopping I'm describing is what Rehoboam did when he listened to younger men instead of the wise men.  This action split the entire nation and resulted in numerous deaths and spiritual apostasy.

I know many people who doctor shop.  They love their new doctors.  I tell someone the truth and he goes to someone else who says something different, that he wants to hear, and that's now the truth.  Is this based on exposition or the right means of understanding scripture?  No.  It's based on his own lust.  He bows to whoever tells him the spiritual position he wants to hear.  That doesn't change the truth and it won't work with God in the end.

Someone should want a doctor who gives the correct diagnosis based on the truth.  As a "doctor," I don't respect at all someone who shops for another doctor once I've told him the truth.  He's not getting the truth, I don't care if the other "doctor" is telling him he is. He's just shopping for whatever he wants to hear.  It's despicable.

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