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How Do You Take It?
by David Smith

“If you correct a conceited man, you will only be insulted. If you reprimand an evil man, you will only get hurt. Never correct a conceited man; he will hate you for it. But if you correct a wise man, he will respect you. Anything you say to a wise man will make him wiser. Whatever you tell a righteous man will add to his knowledge.” Proverbs 9:7-9 TEV

    Preachers can relate to this text! Virtually every sermon gets heard by dozens of people. When the sermon is finished, there are as many different reactions to it as there are people. And though the sermons / preachers / listeners change, one thing remains constant — the reactions do not change. The reactions to the spoken / interpreted / applied word of God ever range across the spectrum from “insult,” “hatred” and “hurt” to “respect,” an increase in “knowledge” and being made “wiser.” Not so much from sermon-to-sermon (that sermon was a “good ‘un” and that other one was “not so good”), but within each and every sermon (the same sermon gets heard vastly different ways).

    So what makes the difference between the poles of reaction? Solomon says it isn’t isn’t the transmitter. It isn’t the setting for the broadcast. It isn’t the finesse of the delivery of the message.

    The difference is the receiver.

The difference is the receiver.
    Or to put it as bluntly as the inspired wisdom of Solomon put it, it is the difference between a “conceited” man and a “wise” man. It is the difference between a “evil” man and a “righteous” man.

    Jesus commented on this same phenomenon one time by means of a good story:

A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. He who has ears, let him hear.

    Now if what Solomon says is true . . .

    and if what Jesus says is true . . .

    how you take the sermons you hear says far more about you than it does the sermon, who delivered it or even how it was delivered.

    So may I ask you plainly, with love, “How do you take it?” Is your heart conceited or wise? What kind of soil is there? And what will you do with the word — critique it or apply it?

    “He who has ears, let him hear.”

    Father, in the name of Jesus, give me what you would have me say and give me what you would have me to hear. But Father, I pray most of all that you would give me the heart to receive whatever you would have for me to say or hear the way I should receive it. Amen.

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HEARTLIGHT(R) Magazine is a ministry of loving Christians and the Westover Hills church of Christ.
Edited by Phil Ware and Paul Lee.
Copyright © 1996-97, Heartlight, Inc., 8332 Mesa Drive, Austin, TX 78759.
© 1999, David Smith. Used by permission.