I am more concerned with becoming a better person than with feeling good. Maybe that is because I seldom feel good physically any more, so I am not wedded to the idea that I must always be pumped up spiritually in order to become a more spiritual person.
I have written a few things that I hope have encouraged you. I have written a few things that have made some of you cry, good tears, not bad ones. However, a friend told me once, “I want something that challenges me,” and I found myself agreeing with her, and that is what I have tried to do more than anything else. If I keep saying that you are just fine the way you are, will you even bother to try to improve yourself?
As a result, I have lost readers. It makes me think of Ahab who described the prophet Micaiah this way, “I hate him because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil,” 1 Kgs 22:8, and who once greeted Elijah, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” 18:17. Too many folks ignore the fact that they are causing their own problems. Like Israel of old they want preachers who say, “Peace, peace, when there is no peace,” Jer 6:14. Like the Galatians’ behavior toward Paul, they make those who simply want to help them wonder, “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the truth?” Gal 4:16.
Pats on the back are good. They serve a purpose. A sermon that makes you shed a tear for the sacrifice that saved you is a helpful thing. It might just sustain you through a temptation that comes your way soon after. I think that is one reason we remember that sacrifice every week.
But emotion fades. That pumped-up feeling can deflate quickly when the realities of life puncture your balloon. You must often sustain yourself with the knowledge that comes from the hard, and often tedious, work of Bible study. You must have the word of God saturating your mind so much that it bubbles up and out of you just when you need it most. You must have prayed often enough that a quick one automatically comes to your lips in difficult circumstances. You must believe because you know logically and with sound evidence that these things are true, not because someone sent you a piece of feel good fluff that won’t stand up to an argument by a knowledgeable minister of Satan.
Most of all, you must be willing to listen to those who love you and care about your eternal destiny, whether you want to hear what they say or not—and, in fact, whether they have your good will at heart or not. God has often used the wicked to send his message.
Don’t be afraid to be challenged. Don’t be afraid to examine yourself for your faults. It will work wonders for your soul.
Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness; considering yourself, lest you also be tempted. Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Gal 6:1,2.