William Willimon writes:
Where we want the gospel to be gracious it is judgmental and where we want it to be judgment, it is gracious.
Willimon is simply referring to the truth that “God’s ways are not our ways.” Isaiah 55:89. The Word that God calls us to teach is sometimes good for us rather than when we note a good to us gospel.
As preachers we must recognize that there is a time to be a prophetic voice that calls Christians to live a life in line with their calling. There is also a call to voice the truth of forgiveness to those who have been broken by an acknowledgment of their sin and are thus in need of this gracious call of God.
How does one know when to do one or the other? It is only as we go to God in prayer and ask for God’s leading. It is only as we go to the Word and allow the Spirit to use it to enlighten us. It is only as we resolve to tell people the truth rather than tell them something that may make them shout but is not what they need. Let us allow God’s message to do what it needs to do in those who we are called to give a word of life.