TODAY’S READING: Proverbs 25–27
The primary missionary assignment is to open our mouths and preach the gospel. Preaching is incumbent on all of God’s people of every age. We are town criers, ambassadors, watchmen, voices in the wilderness, heralds, messengers. We are not the Christ, not the answer, and not the hope. Neither is our money, food, clean water, medicine, or education. We are to open our mouths and tell people about Jesus. Preaching is not restricted to churches; it’s the verbal explanation of news in a way the hearer can understand. This news is called good news (which infers there is also bad news). Faithful missionaries must be adept at “newsification.” This is our primary job, and this is where Proverbs can help us be missionary as Proverbs has much wisdom about the mouth.
We must be faithful messengers (25:13). Faithful messengers are not embarrassed by the message so they don’t try to improve on it. They don’t embellish or dilute. Faithful messengers are more concerned that they communicate exactly what their master wanted in the spirit of their master than they are with how the message is received. They fervently hope the message is received well, for they know it brings life. But the overriding loyalty of the messenger is to the master, not to the feelings of the masses.
We must be gentle messengers (v. 15). The gentle tongue can indeed break bones, rocks, hard hearts, and rigid spirits. Gentle doesn’t mean weak; gentle is the caress of a mighty ocean tide that meekly returns to shore. It doesn’t abuse, assault, or rage, but it can’t be stopped either. Gentle missionaries are relentless missionaries, kinder than the hardness they encounter. They are kindly unrelenting.
We must be discerning messengers (v. 25). The discerning messenger does not confuse the devotion of the deceived with fulfilment. The discerning messenger sees beyond ritualistic religion to thirsty hearts and famished souls, dying for a drink of living water, dying for a taste of living bread. Rejection or rebuffs do not dishearten the discerning messenger, for they see through any apparent strength to the total weariness of spirit that longs for good news and cold water from heaven.
We must be wise messengers (26:4–5). Wise missionaries know when to expose folly and when to let folly expose itself. Wise messengers know that sometimes we shout loudest by saying nothing at all, for the contrast of our restraint to the rebellious raving of the wicked is all the articulation needed. There were times that the Word of God remained silent, even when the world most wanted Him to speak.
We must be truthful messengers (v. 24). Good missionaries have no lie in them, no misdirection, no manipulation, no cowardice masquerading as prudence. Those whose assignment is to speak truth with grace can have nothing false about their identity, presentation, or behavior. Our words will only be as powerful as our lives are authentic. Lies cannot lead the deceived to truth, for only truth sets free.
We must be surgical messengers (27:6). Faithful are the wounds of a friend. Missionaries must speak about hell and judgment. Missionaries must tell the ones they love most that they are blind, sick, naked, and poor. Missionaries must be as honest as doctors about the danger of the soul and the pain of the remedy.
We must be considerate messengers (v. 14). If we present gospel truth to the nations in a way that they cannot understand or that is unnecessarily offensive by being selfishly insensitive (or lazy), then we are to blame for casting pearls before swine. The point of that saying of Jesus is not that we are superior but that we are foolish if we present truth in a way that is indigestible. Missionaries have the responsibility to learn the culture, language, and heart of the unreached and to present hard truths without singing off-key.