Mark 2:17, NIV – “Jesus said to them, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’”
Several years ago, I went in to see the doctor. I had received a diagnosis that was troubling, but I wanted a second opinion. I pursued various tests and doctors to confirm what was previously said but also in hopes that the first doctor was wrong, everything turned out to be ok but caused me to think.
I find it interesting that, when I go see the doctor for physicals or other reasons, if the doctor says that everything is ok, I’m thinking “Awesome, see you next time!” Why don’t I get a second opinion when I receive good news? It’s probably because I might be afraid the second doctor would find something that was missed so it’s just best to stay away.
The correlation can be made with the Church today. People love to hear a “good diagnosis.” People don’t feel the need to seek out someone else when preachers tell us things like: “We are awesome,” “God loves us no matter what we do,” “The sin called out in Bible doesn’t apply to today,” or “God wants you to be prosperous and wealthy!”
We walk away feeling good about ourselves from these types of messages as a type of “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. There’s nothing wrong with feeling positive, but the problem arises when the tables turn and we start to hear messages about sin or something that is trying to motivate us to change a behavior. What is our response to that?
Many times with a tough message from either a preacher or the Bible directly, we get what I call dissociative listening. We “hear,” but we do not apply the truth to ourselves or we think of who else it might apply to. We might nudge our spouse or think of a friend who gossiped about us and wish they were there to hear it.
Jesus said in Mark 2:17 that He has not come to call the righteous but sinners. I almost feel like Jesus is referring to the righteous here as “righteous” with finger quotes. The Pharisees at the time could not understand why Jesus was with the tax collectors and other sinners. These “sinners” were actually willing to listen to Jesus.
The Pharisees were too busy in their self-righteousness to realize that they needed a Savior, too! Jesus did not come to call the righteous, because no one is righteous without Jesus. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23).
How do we respond when we are faced with a truth about ourselves or our sin? A part of having discernment is being able to see if the message aligns with the Bible and how it applies to our life. If a message being preached or advice a friend has for us does in fact align with the Bible, we have an obligation to take it to heart and act upon it.
The problem with getting a “second opinion” when it comes to God is there will always be someone else out there that will tell you what you want to hear. There will be a friend that doesn’t want conflict and tells you that your sin is “ok” or “everyone does it.” There will be a pastor somewhere that will tell you that repentance isn’t necessary and that God wants you to be happy. If you seek truth, you will find it. Unfortunately, if you seek what your ears want to hear, you will find that as well.
The Bible warns of this in 2 Timothy 4:2-3, NIV:
“Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”
I would encourage you, the next time you hear a word or read a Bible verse that “stings” a little… or a lot, to not ignore it. If you need to change something, change it. If you need to repent about something, repent. Don’t seek out a second opinion just to tell you what you want to hear.
Seek out God for yourself and find out and make your prayer the prayer of David in Psalm 139:24 (NLT), “Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” God is our ultimate source of everything; He will lovingly call out sin in our lives in order for us to grow in Him. He wants to cut out the sin from our flesh so we can be holy before Him. Jesus will see us through this process; after all, He is the Great Physician!
Also, if you know of a friend, teacher, or Pastor that is preaching or living out the whole Word of God without compromise, make sure you thank them, listen to them, and pray for them!
Discerning Reflection – How can I do a better job of applying what I hear to my life? Am I currently listening to sound doctrine, and have I sought out the Bible for myself to verify?
Prayer – Lord, thank You for your desire to help me grow in my walk with You. Help me be aware of my sin and how I can best change. Help me not be defensive as I pray for those that are preaching Your Word, that You would encourage and sustain them so they can continue to do Your work.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on discerning-dad.com
Featured Image by John Mark Smith