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Itchy ears Last update: August 2011

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itchy ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry (2 Timothy 4:3-5, NKJV).

Paul is writing to Timothy (a younger man) and encouraging him to remain steadfast and faithful to the pure, unadulterated message that he has received from him. Paul is saying; 'many people will not want to hear what you want to say because your message will not be pleasing to them, but stick to it. Stay with your message - the Word of God gets the priority over what is pleasing for people to hear.' Remarkable. Paul knew that 'God-fearing', 'Christian' people who devote their lives to following Christ will find it hard to accept the unadulterated message that Paul brought about Christ. Why? Because people are inherently rebellious towards God and they want to hear what is 'nice', not what is 'good'. That is what "itchy ears" means. They want to hear about morals and traditions and stories and doing good works, but they do not neccessarily want to hear about Truth.

In my understanding, to love with a Godly love means to do (or to say, or to write) what is good to another, not neccessarily what is nice to them. That is why I cannot afford to surround myself with Christian people whose only interest is to have a friendly relationship with me. Friendship is wonderful and I greatly treasure good friendships. But it is not enough. My salvation is too important to squander on sustaining my desires to be liked. Unless Christian friends are willing to put our relationship 'on the line' in the interest of helping me follow Christ better, they probably are not loving me enough to make it worth their while, or to make it worth my while. I want my friends to be a Paul as he spoke to the Galatian church: You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? (Galatians 3:1-3). Paul did not mince his words. And, the whole of Christianity can be thankful for it. Of course he cared for the feelings of the people of Galatia. But Paul was not as concerned over people's feelings as much as he was concerned over getting the truth of God's Word across loud and clear.

Listen to what he says even to one of the most devout followers of Christ as he speaks to Peter, one of Jesus' inner circle: But when Cephas (Peter) came to Antioch, I protested and opposed him to his face [concerning his conduct there], for he was blameable and stood condemned. (Galatians 2:11)

If indeed I acknowledge that that I still miss the mark in many areas, that I still have only a partial understanding of God's Word, and that both these matters have a bearing on the extent to which I deliver Godly fruit for the Master, then surely I will want to be set straight as and when I either miss the mark or have a poor understanding of God's Word. And if that is true I must be surrounded by men and women who are able and willing to minister to me directly and lovingly.

Most often we interpret "lovingly" speaking the Word as sugar-coating God's Word or changing to to something that is 'softly-softly'. Yes, of course there is no need to be a 'sledge hammer' most of the times. But, if the person or the situation calls for it, are you willing to be a Paul for Peter? Most people are not. Why? Because, without being willing to acknowledge it, most people consider their own reputations more important than another person hearing the Word of God. They wish not to bring offense. Yet, the Bible says, the Gospel by its very nature is an offense - to get away from the offense of the Gospel is to distance yourself from the Gospel itself.

Oh man and woman in Christ, choose your teachers very selectively, or you may never grow up and you may never be fruitful: And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:11-16)

Paul says that we should be redeeming the time for the days are evil (Ephesians 5:16), and, to work out your salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). And, he says, let the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Collossians 3:16). What this means for me, an imperfect Christian, is that I need to be diligent in the matters of Christ. And I need to be working at it every day. Tomorrow is not good enough. For, tomorrow may never come for me.

Thus, if I am merely exposing myself to people who tell me simply what I want to hear (friends, family, pastors, preachers and priests or prophets) because they are concerned about being disliked or they are concerned over our relationship, and if what they don't tell me affects how or if I deliver Godly fruit, then I am allowing myself to be merely listening with itchy ears because I will not be hearing what is good for me, only what is nice. Then, I have become what Paul writes about to Timothy. I am simply accommodating my own errors because my will is more important than His.

For the time is coming when [people] will not tolerate (endure) sound and wholesome instruction, but, having ears itching [for something pleasing and gratifying], they will gather to themselves one teacher after another to a considerable number, chosen to satisfy their own liking and to foster the errors they hold, And will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions. As for you, be calm and cool and steady, accept and suffer unflinchingly every hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fully perform all the duties of your ministry. (2 Timothy 4:3-5, Amplified)

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Please consult the Bible and test what is written here. Ask the Lord to give you wisdom in this area. Keep that which is good and reject that which is not Scriptual. Should you come to a different understanding than I please let me know - perhaps I can learn from you.

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