Drippings from the Honeycomb
More to be desired are [the rules of the Lord] than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)
Paul says this in 1 Cor 2:1–5:
And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Corinth was known as a city that loved its rhetoric; the finesse, eloquence and polish of its public speakers. As a Greek city, it also loved philosophy and knowledge. Coming into town as a missionary Paul could have adopted such practices to have wooed the crowds, but he didn’t. Instead he preached rather plainly, or rather than what the world wanted to hear, he preached Christ crucified. Didn’t he shoot himself in the foot by this practice? Not at all, by speaking the truth plainly he allowed room for the Holy Spirit to move through his message in power so their faith didn’t rest on Paul but on the Lord.
Today, amongst liberal and evangelical preachers, there has long been a trend to be like the culture in preaching style: use lots of jokes, entertain, be a motivational speaker, conceal the hard truths like hell or sex, all to win over their audiences. Not a few disenchanted Christians have expressed their disgust with me over this trend. Now being winsome as a preacher is good; but to conform to the expectations of a culture is exhausting, and unless you’re a natural jokster, untrue to who you are. Most of all, however, it gets in the way of preaching the plain truth, expounding Scripture, telling people about Jesus. Ultimately it doesn't nourish souls with the truth. In preaching, the preacher must decrease so Christ might increase.
Related: A Painful Preacher of the Truth
A Word to the Minister
While we may not all be preachers or elders, the following word is directly applicable to those who are and indirectly to those that are not as they seek out and seek to cultivate genuine ministers of the Gospel.
The Chapel I served in England was not structurally fancy. It was built in 1819 of plain stone. Its expansions over the years were practical and yet of good quality. Thankfully the building was not a designated historical building which enabled us to make any changes without hassle. We sought to modernize the building yet not without compromising its heritage. One change we made when we introduced A/V was to move the historic plaques on the front wall in the Chapel. There is a certain theology of architecture and this said that we worshipped our past. Valueing our past we moved these marble plaques to the rear of the Chapel and put an elegant and yet simple cross on the front wall. In this way we not only made space for a blank area on which the lyrics of songs could be projected, but fixed our eyes on Jesus with the cloud of witnesses behind us (Heb 12:1–2a).
Though our Chapel had few unique features it did have one, one rich in theology and one that we kept. It was so unique that no one, including visiting preachers or even myself, had ever seen the likes of it anywhere else. On the wood panelling of the balcony facing the pulpit was a Georgian (pre-1837) plaque noted in the picture above. In old KJV English it read:
Thou therefore gird up they loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command these; be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them. (Jeremiah Chap. 1 Ver.17)
In contemporary English it is translated:
But you, dress yourself for work; arise, and say to them everything that I command you. Do not be dismayed by them, lest I dismay you before them. (Jer 1:17, ESV)
At first glance this appeared rather an odd text. Why not something more along the lines of “woe is me if I preach not the Gospel” (1 Cor 9:16) or “preach the word in season and out of season” (2 Ti 4:2). Yet on a closer inspection this verse is of great relevance for it reminds the preacher, and any interested in truth, to fear God above pleasing man.
Jeremiah had a very difficult ministry. He had to speak God’s truth into the deteriorating covenant relationship between God and Judah just before the Babylonian invasion. Yet it was only this biting ointment that could be a balm for their wounds.
The Lord gave Jeremiah four commands:
 James Culross, The Three Rylands (1897), 73.
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