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The Preacher

It is quite evident that the smoking, picture-going, football-fan type of preacher, while he may receive popular applause, lowers the standard of holy living and does not commend the message of the Bible.

Writing to the Thessalonians, (and incidentally to us), Paul says :"Ye know what manner of men we shewed ourselves toward you for your sake" (1 Thessalonians 1.5), and the kind of men they were is revealed in 1 Thessalonians 2.

"We waxed bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God in much conflict." They were hold, men of courage, prepared to suffer hardship. They spoke "not as pleasing men, but God" in not " using words of flattery."

They were men with singleness of eye and heart, uninfluenced by persons or opinions, being faithful to their trust. What a temptation it is to preachers to attempt to please the audience

Nor seeking glory of men "-this is ever a snare to preachers who may be more concerned with what others think of them and their preaching than with the delivery of the faithful word.

"We were gentle in the midst of you." The preacher then must be a true gentle man, able to approach others and also easily to be approached by others. Christ was a true gentle Man, and the gospels reveal how easy it was for men, women and children to approach Him with their troubles and needs. The preacher must in no way stand aloof.

"Being affectionately desirous of you." This characteristic should be a reality with all preachers, it will tone and control the words and attitude with Christ-like yearning to rescue the perishing.

"We were well pleased to impart unto you, not the gospel of God only, but also our own souls." What self-sacrificing love is this ! This is more than giving one's time, talents or wealth. It is the yielding of oneself in sacrifice for the well-being and blessing of others. Many have done this on the Mission Field. It is the Christ-like attitude seen in Philippians 2: "Have this mind in you," and the preacher should possess it.

One of the qualities seen in the preachers is their undiminished tenacity in the work. This is no slipshod go-easy task they have undertaken ; it breathes the spirit of the words, " I will most gladly spend and be spent for your souls." The task of those early preachers at Thessalonica may seem to have been an exacting one, and so it was, but,

"How beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things! " (Romans 10.15).

The word "beautiful" means comely, opportune, ripe, fit. The lovely Man Christ Jesus possessed those lovely feet; true, they were often tired and weary, but how beautiful when they took Him to the needy with words of eternal life! So the preacher must go forth with feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace. Those with such beautiful feet, so comely, so opportune in the hour of soul distress, must,

"Go with the name of Jesus to the dying,

And speak that name in all its living power."

Young men, are your feet beautiful in carrying this life-giving message to the perishing? Does your heart burn and yearn for those for whom Christ died? Have you known the joy of bringing a soul to Christ? Or is this meat that ye know not of? One could say

"Oh, if one soul from Anworth

Meet me at God's right hand,

My heaven shall be two heavens,

In Emmanuel's land."

If this is to be the preacher's experience, then he must be a prepared man, a man of the Scriptures, meditating therein day and night, for he must receive his message from the Book in the power of the Spirit of God. Someone has said, "The pump creaks badly when there is no water in the well." Thirsty souls want water, not noise, and we need preachers whose hearts are indeed wells of water springing up with the waters of life in freshness and living power, men who know and understand the Book, and are able to cause others to understand what they read in the Scriptures (Acts 8.30).

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom " is a word to all preachers, and the preacher must always be the first to taste the sweetness, or feel the burden of his message.

"The preacher sought to find out acceptable words ... even words of truth," and with this we link the words,

"Give diligence to present thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, handling aright the word of truth" (2 Timothy 2.15).

Like his Master, he must also be a man of prayer, dwelling in the secret place of the Most High, for that is the place of power and revelation, a man gifted and taught by God, in knowing how to speak a word in season to him that is weary. A man of discernment and wisdom, for "he that is wise winneth souls" (Proverbs 11. 30).

"And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever" (Daniel 12.3).

The preacher should speak clearly, and cause his voice to be heard; able to use words aptly and correctly, clear-headed, but pre-eminently a man of the heart, like his Master, a preacher and weeper for souls, "Serving the Lord ... with tears" and in sympathy for the lost.

We live in an intellectual age, and we need to guard against the tendency so evident all around us, of becoming intellectual exponents of the letter of the word. We need to remember the objective of the preacher is to reach souls, not tickle ears, but to convey a message from the heart of God to the hearts of men which will give eternal life. This objective cannot be reached by mere human cleverness, or the most eloquent intellectual presentation of gospel truths apart from the power of' the Spirit of God. Paul said "For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.... And my speech and my preaching were not in persuasive wards of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power; that your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God" (1 Corinthians 2.2-5).