Ezekiel 2:7-8 “You must speak my words to them, whether they listen or fail to listen, for they are rebellious. But you, son of man, listen to what I say to you. Do not rebel like that rebellious house; open your mouth and eat what I give you.”
It is very interesting to me that from the point of Ezekiel’s call, God made it very clear that his reception was going to be spotty at best, but he wasn’t to let his own obedience to God be governed by how his words were received. In a sense it is good to tailor your delivery to your audience, but a true man of God must not fail to speak what God has given him. Paul said that people would “gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” (2 Timothy 4:3) Any preacher would like to be in demand, but if they are in a popularity contest, they are in the wrong line of work. The world’s standards of success are very different from God’s. We are called to listen to God above every other voice, and there are very many that clamor at us. And as James famously pointed out, we must not only listen, we must obey. (James 1:22) Every person alive wants to be accepted by others, but we must focus above all on how God sees us, living to please Him rather than meet any other standard.
I am a preacher. If you doubt it, just listen to me for a few minutes! I had never thought of any special kinship with Ezekiel before, but I have been called to minister in Japan, which is unique among the nations for the low rate of return for effort expended in evangelism. That makes God’s words to Ezekiel very applicable! I am to receive everything He gives me without complaining, and I am to proclaim it how and when He indicates. I am to be grateful for every person who responds, but I am not to evaluate myself on the basis of people’s response. My job is speak the truth in love faithfully, knowing that to the degree it is indeed God’s Word, He is responsible for whatever happens after that. I do continue to pray for a rich harvest in the Kingdom through my ministry, but that is God’s business and I’ve got to be content with that.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the completely unexpected email yesterday from someone who says they want to come to church here. I pray that they would follow through and do as You are leading them to do. You’ve given me a very stern Word for this next Sunday. Help me not tone it down for fear of scaring anyone off, but rather be faithful to You by the power of Your Spirit, so that Your Word may fulfill everything for which You send it, (Isaiah 55:11) for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!