Jeremiah 1:7-8 But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a child.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord.
Jeremiah has been called “the reluctant prophet,” but he’s got a lot of company. He first used his youth as an excuse, but Moses used his stuttering, (Exodus 4:10) and most of us have used all sorts of things as “reasons” we can’t act as God’s representatives. None of those hold any water. The answer is always the same: “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31) That doesn’t mean our path will be easy. Jeremiah went through a lot, and Jesus promised us that in this world we will have trouble. (John 16:33) However, if God is with us we have nothing to fear, just as He told Jeremiah. The Japanese for this passage brings out something that the NIV doesn’t. Rather than saying, “Don’t be afraid of them,” it says, “Don’t be afraid of their faces.” In other words, don’t be afraid of their reaction to what I tell you to say. Every preacher tends to watch the faces in the congregation to see how his words are being received. It is a massive encouragement when those faces show the truth is getting through. However, pulling back when there is resistance makes you a politician, not a prophet. The flip side of that is those who delight in shocking, or who are needlessly rude or crude. I don’t think they are listening to the Lord very accurately! The first requirement for a representative of God is humility, but that is very closely followed by obedience. Those are inseparably intertwined with faith. Such a person is precious to God indeed, and He delights to use them for His glory.
Once again I am preaching to myself. I have used various excuses over the years to be less than fully obedient to God, but the actual chief obstacle has been fear of people’s response to what I say and do. As Proverbs 29:25 says very clearly, such an attitude will trip you up every time. I know that’s true, because I’ve experienced it more times than I care to remember! I delight to speak God’s Word and I have no greater joy than when it is received and acted on, but I tend to get down when it is not received, and I tend to calculate whether it will be received before I even speak. I don’t know people’s hearts, but God does. If God tells me to say something, I’d better say it, whatever the short-term consequences. Sometimes a Word will lie dormant in a person’s heart for a long time, but then wake up and produce fruit. I’m not to prejudge the condition of the soil, but go ahead and sow the seed God indicates. (Luke 8) No excuse for disobedience can stand before God. I am to walk in faithfulness, letting Him give me the words, the wisdom, and the power I need, so that His will may be done through me for His glory.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You that You are totally faithful. May my faithfulness reflect Yours, tearing down the strongholds of the enemy in individuals and in society and setting the captives free, for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!