How do you respond to convicting truth preached from the Word?
Personally, I love hard preaching. When the Spirit of God takes me to the “woodshed” through the preached Word of God, I rejoice! It is like water to my soul; it is refreshing, invigorating, and satisfying. I want to be reminded of eternity, of the gravity of these truth, of the call to holiness and the sacrifice of my Savior. I need to be reminded of my own inability, of how lost I was, and how desperately every day I need to grace of God.
But there are times when I wonder if my delight in such convicting sermons is weird or bizarre or strange. There are moments when I think: “Am I just wired wrong?”
Recently, through conversations with some others in our church who delight in a convicting challenge (who actually find joy in it!) I came to a place of puzzlement over this “phenomena.” Why would people enjoy hearing that they are wrong, out of line, or in danger of punishment?
The world would answer the question by saying that we are just a bunch of masochists, that somehow we get some perverse delight out of the emotional or psychological pain. They would say we need help (as in the professional kind). However, I think the world couldn’t be more wrong with their answer.
I came across the following in Thomas Watson’s A Godly Man’s Picture and I believe it gives the true answer to this “bizarre” behavior:
The Scripture is like the Garden of Eden: as it has a tree of life in it, so it has a flaming sword at its gates. This is the threatening of the Word. It flashes fire in the face of every person who goes on obstinately in wickedness… a godly man loves the menace of the Word. He knows there is love in every threat. God would not have us perish; he therefore mercifully threatens us, so that he may scare us from sin… there is mercy in every threat.
So, the child of God learns to see the mercy in the threat, the joy in the conviction, the eternal pleasure gained through moments of pain, the refinement in the moments of fire. Explaining this truth leads Watson to raise the following question (and further drive the point home):
Do we love the convictions of the Word? Do we love the Word when it comes home to our conscience and shoots its arrows of reproof at our sins? It is the minister’s duty sometimes to reprove. He who can speak smooth words in the pulpit, but does not know how to reprove, is like a sword with a fine hilt without an edge. ‘Rebuke them sharply’ (Titus 2:15). Dip the nail in oil, reprove in love, but strike the nail home. Now Christian, when the Word touches your sin and says, ‘Thou are the man,’ do you love reproof? Can you bless God that ‘the sword of the Spirit’ has divided between you and your lusts? This is indeed a sign of grace and shows that you are a lover of the Word.
Did you catch that last part? Why this bizarre behavior? Because God is producing it. It is a sign of his grace working in our life. If we fought the conviction, if we hated it, it would only manifest a heart that is embracing rebellion and doesn’t want to submit to what God is saying. However, that we love such hard teaching and desire to have the light of truth shine upon our souls reveals something heavenly working in our lives- it reveals Someone divine working in our lives.
So, the next time your pastor isn’t “pulling any punches” and you find yourself broken but joyfully, realize there is nothing wrong with what you are experiencing. Actually, there is everything right with it, and your joy should only increase when you realize this strange feeling is evidence of God’s Spirit working in your life.