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So what is our response to be? Are we to get mad at people and lose our enthusiasm in preaching the Word? Are we to lose heart and adopt an attitude, “Well, most people aren’t going to get it anyway, so why put forth a lot of effort in communicating?” Absolutely not! While I don’t want to see any pastor or teacher taking the blame for things that are outside of their control, I believe we can passionately aspire to be the best teachers and preachers that we can be, but know that there are factors outside of our control when it comes to the final results.

Paul said,
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase.
(1 Cor. 3:6-7) 
We can’t take the glory when a person receives benefit from the Word, so neither should we take the blame when they don’t.

Years ago, I received a call from a young pastor who had prayed for a church member to be healed, but the church member died. The sincere, caring pastor was very troubled over the church member’s death, and I could tell he was struggling with guilt, perhaps thinking that he had not had enough faith or had not prayed properly for the church member. I asked him, “Are you blaming yourself for this church member not being healed?” Hesitantly, he said, “Well yes, I guess I am.” I then asked him, “If the church member had been healed, would you have taken the credit?” He quickly said, “Of course not. I would have given God the glory.” All of a sudden, he realized the kind of situation he had put himself in—If the person gets healed, God gets all the glory. If the person dies, the pastor gets all the blame.

That’s not exactly a healthy situation to be in.

Having said all this, let me say that we who teach have a tremendous responsibility to do all that we can to skillfully present the Word of God. We don’t just blandly throw Scriptures out and say, “Well if they get it, they get it. If they don’t, they don’t.”

How would you like to go to a restaurant where the chef just threw some poorly cooked meat and half-cooked vegetables on an unclean plate and had it brought out to you? When asked, the chef might say, “Well, I put the food out there. If they don’t like it, that’s their problem.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to go to that restaurant. I want to go to a restaurant where the chef believes in creating beautiful entrees, having a clean and sanitary kitchen, having polite greeters and courteous wait staff, having a pleasant atmosphere in the dining area, and who values his or her patrons, wanting to give them the best dining experience possible.

While I know that I’m not exclusively or ultimately responsible for whether people receive the Word or not, I also recognize that I have a part to play, and I want to do my part as well as I possibly can. I may not like it when people don’t receive the Word, or don’t benefit from it as much as they could, but I’m going to follow Paul’s admonitions to Timothy:

  • “Hold fast and follow the pattern of wholesome and sound teaching which you have heard from me.” (2 Tim. 1:13 AMP)
  • “…the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:2)
  • “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Tim. 2:15)
  • “A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth” (2 Tim. 2:24-25)
  • “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching… Work at telling others the Good News, and fully carry out the ministry God has given you.” (2 Tim. 4:2, 5 NLT)

Finally, my personal conviction when I teach is to do so as though everyone listening will fully receive and apply that Word. I’m going to teach as though I am 100% responsible for their receiving (even though I know that ultimately they have a part to play as well).

Paul put every fiber of his being into his ministry, as is evidenced in his statement to the Galatians, “Oh, my dear children! I feel as if I’m going through labor pains for you again, and they will continue until Christ is fully developed in your lives.” (Gal. 4:19, NLT)

That passage reminds me of this great truth: The role of God-anointed teaching is not simply to share information, but to facilitate transformation. Our goal is to share the word of God under the anointing of the Holy Spirit so that He can work within the hearers to bring change in their lives.

Being entrusted with the sacred Word of God, and being invited into partnership with the Holy Spirit is the greatest privilege one could ever receive. We have the honor of delivering the oracles of God to people He passionately loves. May we always walk humbly and circumspectly as our office requires, and may we do so with gratitude regardless of the whims of men.

Copyright © Tony Cooke Ministries
All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Author Biography

Tony Cooke
Web site: Tony Cooke Ministries
Since 2002, Tony and Lisa have traveled full-time with an assignment of “Strengthening Churches and Leaders.” Tony’s passion for teaching the Bible has taken him to forty-six states and twenty-six nations. Tony, and Lisa reside in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma and are the parents of two adult children, Laura and Andrew.

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