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Preachers On Trial

A state representative entertained a 5th grade class visiting the state capital. Later he received a letter from one of the students thanking him for his hospitality. At the bottom of the letter was a note: "P. S.   You have been exposed to chicken pox. " What does your job and/or position in life expose you to? First Corinthians 4:1-5 records at least one pressure preaching Christ's gospel exposed the apostle Paul to. Read the text and you will learn that somebody at Corinth wag putting Paul on trial, and he wasn't even present! In those five verses the words "judge, judged and judges" are used at least four times. Verse 3a is very revealing — "But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by a human court." It is easy to see Paul had critics at Corinth. Strong's Concordance identifies the Greek word for "judge" in verses 3 and 4 as anakrino. (pronounced "an-ak-ree'-no") and defies it "to scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, question, discern, examine, judge." Somebody at Corinth had Paul under the microscope.. They were scrutinizing and analyzing and sifting him with a fine tooth comb. And the scrutinizing and analyzing had turned to criticizing. Later in 2 Corinthians 10:10 Paul wrote about their verdict on him — "'For his letters, they say, are weighty and powerful, but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible." Somebody was saying Paul could write a lot better than he could preach! Paul wasn't sophisticated enough for some people. His speaking and preaching left them unimpressed, and in their own private little court they tried and judged and pronounced sentence against him.

Have you ever put a preacher on trial? It happens every Sunday. While the sermon portion of worship offers hearers the opportunity to place themselves under the scrutiny of God's word and examine themselves as it is proclaimed (2 Corinthians 13:5), some people transform sermon time into a court room where they examine how well the preacher (or others) dresses, how he combs his hair, how well (or how poorly) he speaks, his use of the English language, how long he preaches, his mannerisms and accent, etc. What can a preacher do? Back to the text in 1" Corinthians 4:2b, 4b-5 — "....be found faithful. . .He who judges me is the Lord. Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from God." The compelling truth is that preachers are on trial, and so are his self-appointed judges who sit in the pews! Ultimately, the only judge's praise any of us need to win is the Lord's.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ