Luke 6:26 “Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for that is how their fathers treated the false prophets.”
This verse really flies in the face of commonly accepted attitudes. I don’t think at all that Jesus is saying we should have a reputation for being hard to get along with. Rather, I think that He is dealing with the whole issue of political correctness. When we make others’ opinion the sole guide for what we say or how we say it, we are leaving God out of the picture, even if we use Him for window dressing. That is exactly what false prophets do! Words are powerful, and it is entirely possible to manipulate people using them. We are not to be afraid of our words convicting people of sin, because God often uses His prophets to do that, but we must always speak the truth in love. (Ephesians 4:15) Failing to speak the truth out of a fear that people won’t like us is placing people ahead of God, and that is dangerous indeed. We should always be more concerned with what God thinks of us than what any person thinks of us. That is what Jesus is talking about here.
As a pastor and as a teacher, words are my stock in trade, so I have to be especially careful on this issue. There have been many times when my words have wounded needlessly, and I regret them, but there also have been times when I have spoken in love and my words have been rejected, to the point of someone rejecting me. I must not be afraid of that! People have left the church over my continually pounding on the need for personal responsibility in each believer, getting away from the demand for spoon feeding and letting the pastor do everything. This verse should give me comfort on that issue! There are many good passages in the Bible on how we should talk, such as “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” (Colossians 4:6) I am to take all of them to heart, but never fear people’s reactions. Rather, I am to be faithful to speak what my Lord is saying, using the words the Holy Spirit supplies, in the love that sent Jesus to the cross.
Father, thank You for this reminder. It is especially timely now, as I am about to head back to Omura, where I’m sure many things have not been done as I would have done them. Help me discern what is in need of correction and what is not, and encourage rather than tear down. Help me remember that the members of my flock are never my enemies, but the sheep that I am responsible to feed and nurture. Thank You. Praise God!