It is crucial that we regularly examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word. Naturally we would rather brag about our success than deal with our failures, but we can’t succeed until we see where we’ve failed. Pretending we’re better than we are never helps. It is only when we get brutally honest about our condition that we are able to get better. Is it pleasant? No, but it is indeed profitable.
“And Nathan said to David, Thou art the man...” 2 Sam. 12:7
“And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the LORD…” 2 Sam. 12:13
Frances Schaeffer said that there are times “when a negative message is needed before anything positive can begin”. He was right. As unpleasant as it is, man has to see and admit his need before he can get what he needs. He has to face the facts before he can find the problem and fix it. We see this perhaps best of all in Solomon’s search for satisfaction. Until he discovered the futility of life without God he did not seek God as his source of satisfaction.
This is not to say that we must conduct such an experiment as Solomon did before we can get on the right track. There are better ways. For one thing we can learn from those who are older and wiser. Or we can look at the lives of others and see what works and what doesn’t. But, best of all we can listen to the counsel of God’s Word and let it serve as our guide. That will bring us face to face with our faults and failures. It forces us to deal with the unpleasant negatives in our life. It makes us think about both the “goodness and severity of God“( Rom. 11:22).
Pleasant preaching might be popular, but it isn’t always profitable. Speaking smooth things, that offends nobody might entertain, but it does not always edify. What people need isn’t always what they usually want. Human nature being what it is, we would rather not think about the negatives in our life, but in order to advance we must. We can’t get better until we realize that there is a need for change. As related to salvation, we fail to find forgiveness until we are first forced to focus on our faults. We must see ourselves as sinners before we can become saints. And even after we are saved we sin and find ourselves in need of forgiveness. To receive it we must confess our sins. But we don’t do that until we are confronted with our sins. That’s why preaching that never hurts seldom helps. Sin must be described and denounced. Count it a blessing when someone loves you enough to tell you the truth, although it hurts.