Gone to meddlin’

One of my elders used this familiar phrase Sunday – you know the one. “Preacher, you quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’.” It’s a sad day when preaching meddles in our marriages, meddles in our work ethics, meddles in our use of money. Of course, that elder was kidding. But I like the phrase because it says something important. There is an idea out there, not quite said but believed nonetheless, that preaching isn’t supposed to actually demand lifestyle changes, commitment, or repentance.

It’s not supposed to suggest that some actions are morally wrong, or that if there are true teachings there must be false teachings, too. It’s not supposed to proclaim that there is a right way and a wrong way, or worse, that there is just one way, one truth, and one life (John 14:6).

That’s so exclusive! We need to include all kinds of lifestyles!

Talk about theology, or esoteric subjects like how many angels can stand on the head of a pin. But don’t talk about the sin within the audience. Demand change in worship, but don’t demand change in hearts. Criticize the church, but don’t criticize the sin in the lives of those who hear. Point out hypocrisy in church leaders, but don’t point it out in us!

“Heaven has only one sermon – repentance,” says Charles Hodge, “Sinners cannot return to God with their sins. The good news begins with bad news! Peter’s first command on Pentecost was “repent” (Acts 2:38) (Gospel Advocate, October, 2002).

Sometimes a sermon’s intent is to inspire; sometimes its intent is to motivate; sometimes its intent is to comfort. And sometimes, beloved, its intent is to bring about repentance.

“In those days, John the Baptist came, preaching in the desert of Judea, ‘Repent for the kingdom of Heaven is near!'” (Matthew 3:1,2, ESV).

So in a word, if it isn’t meddling, it isn’t preaching!

4 Replies to “Gone to meddlin’”

  1. Questions i struggle with….
    It’s intent should also be to encourage and feed the flock. If your motivation is to convict and cause repentance, when do you start on positive encouragement to a repentant struggling Christian? Do you just keep hammering them with guilt and dire warnings even though they feel exceeding guilt from not being perfect? How do you know if they are not fully aware of their need and the consequences if they fail? How do you know if they are praying every day for God to help them do better? On the other hand, how do you encourage without becoming too liberal? Many fail there. Do you “raise” your flock the same way you raise your children…discipline and dire warnings when needed but lots of positive encouragement. The Apostle Paul was able to do both but most preacher training schools today teach their students to preach the Word “in season and out of season” [whether it hurts people’s feelings or not] but they fall woefully short in teaching them how to preach positive or encouraging sermons. And how many give lip service to what Jesus or the Holy Spirit does in our life but never really delve into that subject, I suspect because they don’t really understand the subject and were not taught it in PT school. And some still believe the Holy Spirit only works through the Word. How do they reconcile that belief with Romans 8:9…”If you don’t believe in the work of the Spirit you are not of me/Christ.” And if the Spirit is only the Word, how does the Word intercede for us in Romans 8:26? And doesn’t Hebrews 6:1 tell them to leave the “fundamentals teachings” where you can delve into the deeper lessons of the Word? How can one grow spiritually if you continually hear only fundamental teaching that you have heard all your life? Doesn’t that stunt your growth? Just as members are human, preachers are human too, and none of us will be perfect until Christ perfects us on that last great day. I will continue to pray and trust in the only perfect one.

  2. Paul’s advice would be a proper diet, never meddling.
    I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
    Preach the word! be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all long suffering and teaching.

    That seems to be a balanced diet of both encouragement and the warnings against sin.
    One cannot with hold the truth for fear of angering the sinful conduct of any. If
    the truth seems to be meddling and offends, then the truth is what is needed.

    If the truth is not offensive to those who hear, then: “Praise the Lord.” Encourage,
    exhort, to an even greater love and faith. Giving thanksgiving for a truly wonderful family of God’s people.

    But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fullfill
    Your ministry.
    2 Timothy 4: 1-5

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