People complain that pastors do not preach the word or stand up for the truth enough. I guess I can’t argue.
At the same time, it’s slightly ridiculous for people to complain that pastors don’t stand for the truth when the people don’t either. The pot calling the kettle black, don’t ya know? I did my best to preach the truth of God’s word. Many people left. This didn’t stop me, but it also made life difficult.
Not going to sugar coat it: if you as a pastor preach the actual words of Scripture in context, you will suffer for it. That’s why pastors don’t do it. Pastors especially don’t do it if the building fund needs funding, or the massive mortgage needs paying, or the Jones’ church is bigger.
The more you want or need earthly things, the odds that you will preach the truth decline.
Preaching the truth is hard because the truth hurts. People like the darkness and hate the light. Truth shines around in peoples’ hearts and makes em cry. It’s fun on some level! But watching people flee over and over again breaks your heart.
I saw a cool phrase in Jeremiah 9:3. The prophet is bemoaning the demise of Israel. Jeremiah says he’s so tired of Israel, he wishes he could run away from the people of Israel to a band of guys in the wilderness! I hear ya there, Jerry!
And here’s verse 3:
And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord.
They like to speak lies and they are not “valiant for the truth.” Ooo, I like that phrase! The Hebrew word for “valiant” means to show yourself mighty, to be powerful, to be great and prevail. That’s the kind of truthiness you need to be an approved pastor.
Are you valiant for the truth?
This would imply at least two things:
1) You know the truth. You’ve read the Bible so many times you know what it’s talking about. You don’t copy sermons off the internet. You don’t rely on commentaries to inform you what to preach. You actually know the Bible, you know the truth of God’s Word. Beyond that, you’ve taken this knowledge into practical experience. You’ve tried out the truth. You’ve worked with it, planted it, and have experiences with it. You’ve seen the validity of the truth right before your eyes. Are you strong in your understanding of and experience with God’s truth?
2) You have set your face like flint and have removed all obstacles and temptations that would make you veer from the truth. You are not reliant on money or ego-feeding compliments or followers. You are also not an arrogant jerk with a desire to smash everyone into the ground with your intellect, we’re not talking macho strength. No, you simply stand unwaveringly on the truth. You’re rooted, grounded, and built up in it. You’ve read it and lived it to know it’s true and there’s nothing on this old earth of ours that will knock you off that firm footing. You don’t cave or back down when lies are thrown your way. You don’t back off the truth even if it means you will lose people, money, followers, reputation, rights, or who knows what else. You’re completely sold out for the truth and it’s all you’ve got and all you need. Here you stand; you can do no other.
This, I believe is what it means to be valiant for the truth. Israel had fallen away from the truth. Verse 5 explains why people like lies:
And they will deceive every one his neighbor, and will not speak the truth: they have taught their tongue to speak lies, and weary themselves to commit iniquity.
People like lies and hate the truth because they want to sin. They want sin and they don’t want guilt. The only way to sin without guilt is to deny the truth. Eliminate the verses and the commands that ruin the fun. And especially get rid of the messenger that brought that truth.
You will be attacked if you preach the truth. They will examine everything you do until they find some trumped up charge to bring against you. Expect it. Make sure there’s nothing for them to find! If you’ve been valiant for the truth, there won’t be. But don’t be shocked when they simply make stuff up! Let em. Be valiant for the truth.
Toward the end of the chapter we have these beautiful verses, ones you should memorize and remind yourself of regularly:
Thus says the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, says the Lord.
Do you know the Lord? Do you know who He is and what He loves? Do you love Him and the things He loves? Are you valiant for the truth? Remember, Paul tells us that love rejoices in the truth.
Pursuing truth does not make you arrogant, you don’t run around boasting in all you know and all your fantastic wisdom. Instead you rejoice that you know the Author of Truth. You know He who is “the way, the truth, and the life.”
Pastors, be valiant for the truth. This is your one calling. Be valiant for the truth. Don’t let anything keep you from this. Fight the fight.