10th October 2011

Keeping Up To Scratch

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 (NKJV)

To add to my other medical deficiencies, I also suffer from itchy ears. They can itch and itch to the point where they become painful. Now, I don’t expect you to feel too much sympathy for me; I have prescribed drops which dull the itching, but I am always reluctant to administer them because they stain the inside of my ears deep yellow. The cure, I always feel, is become worse than the disease.

The Bible talks about people with itching ears. Not quite the same complaint that I have. But interesting nevertheless when we take a moment to examine what Paul has in mind. Think about it. Here are sincere people who come to the conclusion that whatever they are being told is too difficult, too boring, too unattractive, too whatever…. They just want to hear something else. Not just anything else, of course; they still expect to be told how to live a Godly life. And unless the new words seem so to do just that, they wouldn’t be listened to. So all must seem well to the listener. In other words, they are unknowingly being misled. That or misleading themselves, which is what Paul strongly seems to imply. We can, it would seem, set ourselves up to receive false information.

Sooner or later these people find someone who will tell them exactly what they want to hear. And then they will follow them wherever that might lead. They have not knowingly turned their backs on God, or even consciously denied their Saviour. As far as they are concerned, they continue faithfully to walk the life of faith. Only Paul knew differently, and where such a walk would end up. It would seem that we have a responsibility to stick with the truth that we are being taught by faithful men within our fellowship, appointed by God to help us, rather than constantly negatively to question it or to deny it, and to seek for ‘truth’ elsewhere.

We live in a society where anything goes. Standards are things from an earlier, antique, age. Today, as long as it doesn’t hurt anybody, as the saying is, anything goes. But that isn’t true. And it never has been true. God sets out to rescue us from ourselves. Our lives, apart from God, hurt us, as well as they may hurt others. That’s why the Bible—God—has standards: To protect us from ourselves. Paul tells Timothy just a little earlier that “But you [Timothy] must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). So take care and avoid the itchy ears.

Holy Father, you care for us even when we don’t understand how to care for ourselves. Thank you for your love, your understanding, and, above all, for your patience with us. We ask you to help us stick to you, rather than to have itchy ears. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford

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