I just received an email from a friend. Allow me to quote from it for our benefit:
I’m going to preach in 10 days. I’ve been wrestling a lot with pride and the desire to show off, and no matter how hard I tried to meditate on verses such as “what do you have that you did not receive?”, these tempting thoughts did not leave.
I then listened to an interview. I realized then that I was only praying for myself, for the sermon preparation, for strength and understanding and clarity, but I wasn’t praying for the people to whom I was going to preach. So I decided to pray for them.
I’ve since realized that praying for the congregation is one of the best ways to fight against pride and the desire to show off. As we pray for them, we start loving them and long for them to be amazed by God and not by ourselves, the preachers.
I’ve spent the afternoon trying to understand the passage, but it was too much of an intellectual exercise and not enough of an heart-level meeting with God. I then read this article and this one. I’ve realized that I first need to be impacted by the passage in my own life before I can communicate it to others. I don’t want to simply convey information but I want to share God’s heart with them.
Such an encouraging email! May God protect us all from preaching out of pride, or from preaching unfelt truth.