Jeremiah 26:2 Thus says the LORD: Stand in the court of the LORD’s house, and speak to all the cities of Judah that come to worship in the house of the LORD all the words that I command you to speak to them; do not hold back a word. 3 It may be they will listen, and every one turn from his evil way, that I may relent of the disaster that I intend to do to them because of their evil deeds.
It is not always easy to speak the truth. Sometimes there is the fear of hurting others. Sometimes there is the fear of being hurt ourselves. God told Jeremiah to go and stand in the court yard of the Temple and preach a message of repentance to the nation of Israel. “Do not hold back a word” the LORD instructed him. “Speak to them all that I command you. It may be that through your preaching, some of them will turn from their sin and be saved.”
Jeremiah 26:8 And when Jeremiah had finished speaking all that the LORD had commanded him to speak to all the people, then the priests and the prophets and all the people laid hold of him, saying, “You shall die!”
How would you feel if your friends and neighbors responded to you in such a way? Would you wish that you had kept silent? Would you water down your message to make it more appealing? Or would you do WHATEVER the LORD commanded you to do?
Jeremiah 26:12 Then Jeremiah spoke to all the officials and all the people, saying, “The LORD sent me to prophesy against this house and this city all the words you have heard. 13 Now therefore mend your ways and your deeds, and obey the voice of the LORD your God, and the LORD will relent of the disaster that he has pronounced against you. 14 But as for me, behold, I am in your hands. Do with me as seems good and right to you. 15 Only know for certain that if you put me to death, you will bring innocent blood upon yourselves and upon this city and its inhabitants, for in truth the LORD sent me to you to speak all these words in your ears.”
Like any of us, Jeremiah didn’t want to suffer. He didn’t want to die. Yet he was unwilling to disobey God. “I have only spoken what the LORD told me to say. If you choose to put me to death, then so be it. But know this – you are shedding the blood of an innocent man and God will deal with you accordingly.”
It’s not always easy to speak the truth. Whether it’s the preacher in the pulpit on Sunday morning or the parent on the sideline of their child’s ball game on Saturday morning – it’s sometimes very difficult to tell others what they need to hear.
It takes courage to obey God. Paul pleaded with the church at Ephesus to pray that he would have the boldness to tell others about Christ. (see Eph 6:18-20) If Paul needed to pray for courage, surely we do as well.
It not only takes courage, it also takes conviction. In order to have the courage to speak the truth, we have to have the conviction that the truth is the truth. We have to believe with all of our heart that unless a man is born again – they will not be saved.
It also takes confidence. Paul wrote – “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…” (Rom 1:16) ESV Paul believed that the gospel had the power to penetrate men’s hard hearts.
It also takes commitment. Jeremiah understood that his obedience might cost him his life; yet he was unwilling to compromise on his commitment to the LORD. “If you choose to put me to death, then so be it. You will be killing an innocent man and God will deal with you accordingly.”