An Aching Heart

“O my soul, my soul! I am pained in my very heart! My heart makes a noise in me; I cannot hold my peace, Because you have heard, O my soul, The sound of the trumpet, The alarm of war.” (Jeremiah 4:19)

Jeremiah was a “preacher’s preacher” when it came to the seriousness of sin and God’s judgment. He refused to even “wink” at the things that Judah had “closed their eyes to.” He was a staunch opponent of the attitudes and activities that pulled the hearts of his people away from their God. And while all of that is true, Jeremiah still had a soft heart wrapped inside his hard words. It painfully hurt God’s prophet to watch the people he loved make decisions that led to their own downfall. Jeremiah was not a “blood thirsty” preacher that looked forward to the punishment of the people for their sins – HE DESIRED REPENTANCE!

There are times when a preacher must preach on sin and judgment not because he gets a kick out of it, but because it is his JOB! (2nd Timothy 4:1-5) A preacher can be angry at sin without being angry at the sinner.   A preacher can have a loud voice and a tender heart at the same time. Yes, unfortunately there are times when preachers confuse the opportunity to get up and present the message of Christ’s cleansing blood with an opportunity to get up on their own cleansing “soapbox.” But many more times, like the nation of Judah did, I am afraid that people end up confusing an actual lesson on sin with a lesson on a person’s opinion.

We must not confuse a sermon on righteousness with a sermon on self-righteousness. There is a distinction that must be understood. The very nature of the gospel means that there will be times when a sermon steps on our toes; but as I say, “When a sermon is preached properly and our toes get stepped on – it’s because our toes were out in the aisle to begin with.”

My heart aches when I see others begin to drift away from the pathways of righteousness (Psalm 23:3; Matthew 7:13,14). But turning a blind eye to sin and not saying anything about it can actually be evidence of a hard heart rather than a soft one (Galatians 6:1; 2nd Timothy 2:24-26). The goal of a sermon that derives from an aching heart is not VENGEANCE but REPENTANCE.

Does your heart ache at the sight of a broken life shattered by sin? There is nothing wrong if it does; neither is there anything wrong with an aching heart that tells others about it. E.A.

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