Do your ears itch?

Bible Roulette. If you are a Christian, you’ve played it. Here’s how it works: you are looking for something to read today. So you flip through the pages and randomly stop on a page and begin reading. Maybe, somehow, it will be exactly what you need to hear today. But as you start reading, you find that the passage you landed on is about the destruction the Lord is going to bring to disobedient people. Well that isn’t what you were hoping for! So on you go to find a gentler and more encouraging passage. C’mon already, God. Can’t we just skip over the heavy stuff and tell me that I’m going to be blessed!?

We have in us a desire to seek out what we want to hear. I’ve heard it said that we determine if we like someone based on how they feel about us. If they are nice to us, interested in us, and tell us what we want to hear – we deduce that they are a great person that we like. It’s not that we really know them; we just like them based on the fact that they scratch our itchy ears.

ear itch

2 Timothy 4:3 says, “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”

Sometimes we all get that itch that just needs to be scratched. It’s usually in the middle of our back where we can’t reach. So we have to implore someone to help us out. But what do we do when our ears itch? Not literally, of course. Figuratively. What happens when, as a society, we choose to surround ourselves with voices that tell us what we want to hear rather than speak the truth? Danger happens. Depravity happens. Truth becomes subjective. God’s Word becomes a version of Aesop’s fables in which people pick and choose what fits their lifestyle.

The Bible was never intended to be a self-help book that affirms our life choices. It was never meant to be a series of formulas that will invoke blessings from on high. It doesn’t conform to our lives; our lives are to conform to it. As Christians, we must stop seeking out teaching that tickles our ears. We must stop looking for teachers who tell us what we want to hear. We must stop fulfilling the words of Paul to Timothy.

God’s Word does not change. Truth is not relative. It’s time to open up our Bibles and read both the encouraging parts and the hard parts. It’s time to seek out truth rather than affirmation. It’s time to compare our lives to God’s standard rather than looking for someone who will teach us that God’s standard is lower than it used to be. Because that is simply not true. What you do with your itching ears is up to you. But as for me, I’ll choose to scratch mine with truth.

I heard it through the grapevine

1 Timothy 5:19 Do not entertain an accusation against an elder unless it is brought by two or three witnesses.

On October 30, 1968 Marvin-Gaye-I-Heard-It-Through-The-Grapevine-Single-Cover-1968Marvin Gaye released his hit single “I Heard It Through The Grapevine.”  The tune was catchy and even covered by the California Raisins (yes that was a thing).  It’s a song about a rumor he has heard. The rumor? That his love has left him for someone else.

Don’t you know that I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Oh I heard it through the grapevine
Oh I’m just about to lose my mine – Honey, honey yeah

Now poor Marvin was heartbroken. His love was gone and he didn’t even hear it from her! I don’t know if the rumor turned out to be true; the song doesn’t say. It’s mostly just about the rumor.

The message of the song was clear – rumors stink! Yes they do. Paul wrote to Timothy that he ought to be careful about rumors. Because the truth is, people in leadership will get talked about. They will get accused of things. It seems that when people hear bad things about people in charge, they jump on the bandwagon before any truth is discovered. For some reason, people like to see leaders fall.  

As Christians, we aren’t to be boarding the rumor train. Instead, we need to be seekers of the truth. That’s why Paul said not to start accusing leaders unless there are some witnesses. He wanted to avoid this “your word against mine” mess that ruins people. So the next time we start pointing fingers at people, we ought to step back and wait for truth. And in the meantime, it wouldn’t hurt to pray for them. Because if they have truly done some things that will lead to their fall, they are going to need the same grace of God that covers all of our failures. 

You can’t handle the truth!

1 Kings 22:6-8  6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?” “Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.” 7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?” 8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” “The king should not say that,” Jehoshaphat replied. 

It’s one of the most remembered movie scenes of recent time.  It comes from “A Few Good Men” starring Jack Nicholson and Tom Cruise.  In this scene, Lt. Kaffee (Cruise) is interrogating Colonel Jessep (Nicholson).  He wants to know if Jessep was the one who gave the orders that resulted in the death of a soldier.  As Kaffee pushes, Jessep gets increasingly agitated and the courtroom is tense.  Kaffee continues to push, finally demanding: “I want the truth!”  Jessep’s response is now immortalized in movie history. “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!”

I find it interesting that people avoid the truth because they don’t think they can handle hearing it.  In 1 Kings 22, King Ahab called 400 prophets to prophesy about a certain battle.  King Jehoshaphat (of Judah) asked Ahab if there was any main prophet remaining.  Was there anyone the likes of Elijah still around?  There was; his name was Micaiah.  But King Ahab didn’t like to hear from Micaiah, because he always said bad things about him.  He never had anything good to say, so he avoided him.

Micaiah had good reasons why he always had bad things to say to King Ahab.  You see, Ahab was the most wicked Israelite king to have ever lived.  He made the sins of the kings before him look trivial.  So of course, God always had bad news to deliver to him.  If you are going to be a wicked person, you probably aren’t going to get the ‘ol two-thumbs-up from the man upstairs. 

Do you ever avoid God because you can’t handle the truth that you know He will bring?  If so, you are only hurting yourself.  God desires relationship with you, but that relationship is going to be on His terms.  He loves you enough to point out your sin so that you can do something about it.  Hebrews 12:6 says that the Lord disciplines those he loves.  He wants to weed the wickedness out of your heart so that you can be fully led by Him.  So don’t avoid the truth today; face it head on.  In the long run, you will be glad you did.