Many prophets in the Bible seem to have had less influence, not because their message was less true or they were too direct in how they gave it or they were less likable people. Rather, their influence was simply based on how their listeners responded to the Word of God.
In other words, the message was a constant, as was the bold way they delivered it. The “variable” was the readiness of the people to listen and obey God.
If we are going to speak for God, we must understand that this “variable” does not cause the message to change. It also should not cause our bold, fearless delivery of the message to change.
Recently, I was invited to speak about what God says about disciplining children. Because of my concern with how the truth would be received, I instead taught generally about child rearing. What I said did not make any enemies, but I avoided teaching some things I know God teaches. Because of this, after the meeting, I felt as though my message had differed from God’s message.
A few days later, my friend helped me realize that my only option is to echo clearly what God says, regardless of who is listening. Sometimes, like Jeremiah’s listeners, the audience will refuse to hear and obey. Other times, like John the Baptist’s, many will respond.
The important truth I learned was that I cannot change God’s message to increase my influence and stay true to that message. I must choose the constancy of God’s message over the prospect of more influence!