Who Loves More

By Royce Frederick

Who loves more: the parent who lets the child do and have everything he wants, OR the parent who says “no” to dangers, and sets limits on possessions?

Who loves more: the doctor who conceals your illness and tells you what you want to hear — that you are healthy, OR the doctor who reveals your health problems so you can begin treating them?

Who loves more: the preacher who presents only “positive” sermons which make you feel good in your current condition, OR the preacher who declares “positive” lessons and “negative” ones which warn, rebuke, and stir you to forsake sin and follow God?

Many people want to hear only entertaining stories, or only the Bible verses which are pleasant. They refuse to hear lessons from other verses which warn about the sins they enjoy, and about eternal punishment.

Paul charged Timothy, “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables” (2 Tim. 4:2-4).

Jesus gives us a balanced diet of “positive” verses which lift our spirit, and “negative” verses which warn and stir us to action. As someone has said, “The Bible comforts the afflicted, and afflicts the comfortable.”

Early in His ministry, Jesus preached what is commonly called “The Sermon on the Mount” (Matt. 5-7). It begins with many “blessings,” but also contains warnings, and ends with a “crash.”

Jesus taught about the joy and peace of serving God and living with Him forever (Jn. 10:10; 15:11; 16:19-24; 17:13; 14:1-3, 27; 16:33). But He also warned about the agonies of eternal punishment for those who turn away from God (Jn. 5:28-29; 15:6; Matt. 5:21-30; 10:28; 13:41-42, 49-50; 25:46; Mk. 9:42-48).

The Bible closes with a description of the eternal home of the saved (Rev. 21-22). But within that beautiful section are verses which warn of the awful destiny of those who remain in sin (Rev. 21:8; 22:15).

Encouragement is an important part of God’s message. But every preacher and hearer needs to remember that warning about false teachings and other sins is also an important part of “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).