You know that I have not hesitated to preach anything that would be helpful to you but have taught you publicly and from house to house. (Acts 20:20)
This scripture is part of Paul's parting speech to the elders of the church in Ephesus. Paul said that he preached the truth, not to boast, but to teach them. The church at Ephesus was established by Paul himself, and he lived there for three years. The believers in the church at Ephesus were very clear about Paul's behavior. So, Paul hoped that they would remember everything he did in Ephesus and follow him.
The truth was of benefit to people, but maybe not all people liked it. Paul taught everyone the truth without evading it. Whether in public, or in everyone's home, he always taught the believers consistently with his words. Here one can see that Paul was faithful in preaching the truth and didn’t preach selectively or speak a variance of it. Because of his loyalty to the truth, he could preach it bravely. No matter what the circumstance, he taught the truth without the slightest compromise. Why could Paul preach so bravely? Another important reason was that he was unlike the philosophers or lobbyists. They traveled around the world at that time and having reservations about it, spoke about it in order to benefit from it.
Because they wanted to benefit from it, they did not dare to preach the truth. This was similar to the philosophers or lobbyists who traveled around during Paul's period.
In order to benefit, to gain the believer's approval, to get more accolades, and then to cater to the believer's taste, they specialize in some truths that believers love to hear, such as the teaching about grace and blessings. But they dare not tell the truth that believers do not like, such as teaching about sin, judgment, repentance, etc. The theology of success that has emerged today is actually inseparable from this theology of benefit. In addition to speaking of grace, the theology of success is about how to succeed, and not about sin, confession nor judgment.
Because of being timid, they dare not preach the truth. This often happens in the church. For fear of offending the believers, they dare not speak the truth, even when the believers sin. For example, most dare not speak in the church about "being dedicated", because they fear offending believers who may misunderstand. In fact, such people are not timid nor without courage at all. On the contrary, such people are bold and courageous, because they would rather offend God than offend people. Even when they dare to offend God, are they still timid or without courage? They are just afraid of offending believers, fearing that the believers would not come to the church, which would lead to a decrease in the number of believers and eventually a decrease in dedication.
As a person who is called out by God to preach the truth, one must strive to understand the truth and be careful to preach it without bias. One must be faithful until death in order to receive the crown of life given by God.
(Note: The author of this article is a full-time co-worker of a grassroots church in Fujian)
-Translated by Abigail Wu