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Summary: Honouring the Son of God who appoints to holy service may well bring the servant of God into conflict with those who are seeking an easy religion. The one who will serve God, must maintain perspective and remain focused on pleasing Him who appoints to His service.

“Amaziah the priest of Bethel sent to Jeroboam king of Israel, saying, ‘Amos has conspired against you in the midst of the house of Israel. The land is not able to bear all his words. For thus Amos has said,

‘“Jeroboam shall die by the sword,

and Israel must go into exile

away from his land.”’

“And Amaziah said to Amos, ‘O seer, go, flee away to the land of Judah, and eat bread there, and prophesy there, but never again prophesy at Bethel, for it is the king’s sanctuary, and it is a temple of the kingdom.’

“Then Amos answered and said to Amaziah, ‘I was no prophet, nor a prophet’s son, but I was a herdsman and a dresser of sycamore figs. But the LORD took me from following the flock, and the LORD said to me, “Go, prophesy to my people Israel.” Now therefore hear the word of the LORD.

‘You say, “Do not prophesy against Israel,

and do not preach against the house of Isaac.”’

“Therefore, thus says the LORD:

‘“Your wife shall be a prostitute in the city,

and your sons and your daughters shall fall by the sword,

and your land shall be divided up with a measuring line;

you yourself shall die in an unclean land,

and Israel shall surely go into exile away from its land.”’” [1], [2]

Her approach following the service communicated determination; she was a woman on a mission. She informed me that she was uncomfortable with how the message might be perceived by outsiders or by Christians on the fringes of the Faith. It wasn’t her first time to register her concerns—she confronted me at least once each month. After a few years, and gaining no traction, she ceased attending our services. She seemed distressed that she could not get her way on the issue. Her idea of the pastoral role was that the pastor must make everyone happy and never make anyone uncomfortable. Frankly, she was ignorant of the Word of God.

If our concern is primarily how the world sees us, our message can be muted before individuals who despise Jesus our Master. However, I recall Someone who said when He had forgiven a woman of her sins, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little” [LUKE 7:47]. If we love the praise of men more than we love the smile of Heaven, we will be silent in the face of vicious attacks against the Saviour.

However, each pastor has received a solemn charge that must be neither ignored nor depreciated. “I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching” [2 TIMOTHY 4:1-2]. By the very nature of the Word that is declared, the preacher will be brought into conflict with others from time-to-time. Paul would warn Timothy to be wary of Alexander the coppersmith [see 2 TIMOTHY 4:14]. This appears to have been the same Alexander, who together with Hymenaeus, had been handed over to Satan [see 1 TIMOTHY 1:20]. Though the preacher would wish to be positive, would wish to be affirming, he knows that many times standing firm will ruffle some feathers. Many times, the feathers that are ruffled are those of fellow preachers.

The Prophet from Tekoa came to the Northern Kingdom with a straight-forward message. His message, uncompromising as it was, was not well received by the elite within the northern kingdom. The clergy, in particular, were disturbed by Amos’ message.

No one likes to think of their preacher as combative. We want our preachers to be peaceable, to avoid conflict—we have every right to imagine that our preachers will prove to be men of peace. In Scripture, we are taught that the man of God must be neither violent nor quarrelsome [see 1 TIMOTHY 3:3]. That the preacher must not be quick-tempered [see TITUS 1:7] is a qualification that is properly demanded of the clergy.

Of course, focusing on the requirements that speak of a pacific demeanour while ignoring the remainder of the requirements listed can easily lead to gross distortion in the pulpit. Though the elder is not to be combative, “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” [TITUS 1:9]. It is a question of intent—the preacher must not go looking for a fight; however, he must not shrink from fighting the Lord’s battles. It is his responsibility to analyse the conflicts he faces, avoiding exalting his own desires while standing firm for the cause of Christ.

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