My dad gave me some sentinel advice when I entered the ministry: Comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable. It’s yet another example of balance. Both must occur in faithful preaching. And when you find a pastor who does both, make sure you listen to his message! The easier part is comforting the afflicted. When we bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2), it is well received by the one hurting. But convicting the comfortable is harder. People don’t like it. And it’s the Holy Spirit who convicts us of our sins (John 16:8), not the preacher! This is something that is often overlooked by pastors who proclaim a “prosperity gospel.” A feel good message. So, the next time you’re listening to a sermon and are comforted by your pastor, thank him. But please do the same when you are convicted of a sin. Thank him immediately. Repeatedly. He needs to be doing both if he’s faithful. Someone once gave me a placard that simply said, “Ouch.” She told me that my sermon edified her. But also convicted her. It was one of the greatest compliments I’ve ever received. Because the purpose of preaching is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
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