By a slight perversion, the sweetest graces may bear the bitterest fruit. The sun gives life, but sunstrokes are death. Preaching is to give life, but it may kill. The preacher holds the keys; he may lock as well as unlock. Preaching is God’s great institution for the planting and maturing of spiritual life. When properly executed its benefits are untold. When wrongly executed, no evil can exceed its damaging result.
It is an easy matter to destroy the flock if the shepherd is unwary or the pasture is destroyed. It is easy to capture the citadel if the watchman is asleep or the food and water are poisoned. The preacher is invested with gracious prerogatives, exposed to great evils, involving so many grave responsibilities. It would be a parody on the shrewdness of the Devil- a libel on his character and reputation- if he did not use his master influences to adulterate the preacher and preaching. In the face of all this, Paul’s exclamatory question, Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 2:16) is never out of place…
The great hindrance is in the preacher himself. He does not find within himself the mighty, life-creating forces. There may be no deficiency in his orthodoxy, honesty, cleanness, or earnestness. But, somehow the man- the inner man- in his secret places has never broken down and surrendered to God. His inner life is not a great highway for the transmission of God’s message, God’s power.
Somehow, self, not God rules in the holy of holiest. Somewhere, all unconscious to himself, some spiritual nonconductor has touched his inner being. The divine current has been arrested. His inner being has never felt its thorough spiritual bankruptcy, its utter powerlessness. He has never learned to cry out with an ineffable cry of self-despair and helplessness until God’s power and fire come in, fill, purify, and empower. Self-esteem- self-ability in some wicked form- has defamed and violated the temple that should be held sacred for God.
Life-giving preaching costs the preacher much- death to self, crucifixion to the world, the travail of his own soul. Only crucified preaching can give life. Crucified preaching can come only from a crucified man.
E.M. BOUNDS, chapter, Our Sufficiency is of God