Trading Truth For Popularity

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I am sure everyone has heard the comical philosophical question, “Which came first: the chicken or the egg?” At Creation, the chicken clearly came first. But in other instances, sometimes the correct answer is not either-or but both-and. 

The apostle Paul warned his protege Timothy, “For 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” (2 Timothy 4:3). In other words, the people are saying, “The truth makes us uncomfortable, so tell us something that makes us feel good. If you do, you will be rewarded by our popular support.” 

Nearly 600 years earlier, God had something to say to those popular teachers, “Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!” (Ezekiel 13:3). The New King James Version says they “prophesy out of their own heart” and the New American Standard Bible says they “prophesy from their own inspiration…following their own spirit.” In other words, they are speaking a popular message, not a truthful message. 

So which came first: the chicken of people with itching ears or the egg of false prophets with a popular message intended for itching ears? I think this is a true both-and. It’s both people looking for a feel-good message, and false prophets realizing they can be rewarded for sharing a popular feel-good message. 

Absolutely no one benefits from a prophecy from my own inspiration. True prophets of God don’t want people following their own spirit but following the Spirit of God. 

A mark of an ungodly leader is one who uses God’s name only as his platform for personal gain.

To those false prophets, God says, “Woe are you, for My judgment will fall on you.” To those with itching ears who trade popularity for truth, Paul says to Timothy, “Have nothing to do with them” (2 Timothy 3:1-5). 

This is part 72 in my series on godly leadership. You can check out all of my posts in this series by clicking here.

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