Tuesday, February 21, 2006

What Do Your Itching Ears Want to Hear?

In 2 Timothy 4, Paul warned his protege that "...the time will come when men 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." Paul's warning gets repeated a lot, usually by those who are sincerely trying to take what Paul said to heart (although often unfortunately missing the "with great patience and careful instruction" part that comes before these famous verses).

The problem here of course isn't that sound doctrine is defended, and while the issue of how it's defended is worthy of dealing with in depth, what I want to address is that we need a lot more humility around how we draw boxes around what we consider "sound doctrine." Isn't it always somebody else who has itching ears, after all?

Didn't the elder son's itching ears want to hear that his Father was going to rebuke his prodigal younger brother when he returned from his profligacy?

Didn't the itching ears of the Pharisees and Saducees want to hear from Jesus an admission that he and his disciples were violating the law? Didn't they think that Jesus was the myth maker?

Didn't the itching ears of the apostles want to hear that Jesus was going to call down fire from heaven on his opponents?

Didn't the itching ears of the zealots want to hear that Jesus was going to destroy the Roman occupation and take the throne of Jerusalem?

Too often, I fear, our rush to take possession of sound doctrine leads us to forget that the very thing our itching ears want to hear is that Jesus wants us to lead the charge against what we think are myths. If we concern ourselves with being acutely aware of what our own itching ears want to hear, then we may generate the humility, patience and gentleness that are commanded by Scripture when dealing with perceived breaks with sound doctrine.


At 10:08 AM, Blogger Kc said...

[scratch] That's exactly what I needed to hear! [/scratch] Great post Zeke! ;-)

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Zeke said...

Where you been, kc? Good to see you again!

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Kc said...

Zeke I don't miss a post. ;-)

At 9:21 AM, Blogger Ife said...

Well said.

At 1:47 PM, Blogger Steven said...

That's so true. I love that passage, and I read it a lot when I get frustrated with some people, but I definitely need to take it with humility. Everyone hears what's easiest for them to hear, and doesn't easily welcome teachings that require a big and uncomfortable change. I'm no exception. Thanks.


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