HT: Stephen Kneale
They say madness is doing the same thing over and over again whilst expecting a different result. Just doing the same old same old and hoping that something different might happen. And yet, as we read the Bible, that does seem to be what we are taught to do.
We are to preach the Word in season and out of season. What doesn’t change is the preaching of the Word. We are to continue preaching in the belief that this is God’s ordained means of reaching the lost, growing his people and building his church.
But it is also true that there are times the Word is in season and times when it is out of season. Sometimes, we will preach faithfully and consistently with little to no results at all. The Word seems totally out of season. It doesn’t seem to make an impact on anyone or in anything we’re doing. Popular wisdom suggests this is the time to stop, pack it in and try something else. Only a madman keeps doing the same thing over and over again and expects anything different.
But as we keep preaching the Word, we find that there are times it is in season. The same Word we preach in the same way suddenly starts to yield apparent results. People begin to respond to it. Some come to faith, others grow. The same preaching of the Word, in pretty much the same way, suddenly starts to produce fruit.
The Bible doesn’t tell us to preach when the Word is in season and to try something different while it isn’t. We are to preach in season and out of season. In fact, we only know what season it is by preaching! We don’t put a finger in the air and check the weather, we preach the Word and the results tell us what season it might be. But whether it appears to be an in season or an out season, we preach the Word. And, yes, we keep doing it, even expecting different results as we keep doing the same thing over and over again.
That is because the Word is always doing the work the Lord wants it to be doing. Just as he controls the actual seasons, he is also in control of the different seasons of the Word. He determines whether our preaching will be in season or out of season. But that doesn’t mean the out of season times mean the Word isn’t working. Those are the times the Lord has determined, in his sovereignty, to use the Word to harden people. During in seasons, the Lord uses his Word to soften people and draw them to himself. In either case, the Word continues to achieve what he wants it to achieve and why, as we continue to do the same old thing, we can expect different results.
This might seem like utter foolishness to the world. It might seem like foolishness to many within the church. But Paul recognises this well enough (cf. 1 Cor 1:23). It doesn’t stop him telling us to press on, continuing with the same old preaching in the same old way, knowing that the Lord will use it to whatever ends he determines are right.
So, whether you feel like you are preaching in season or out of season, keep preaching. Keep sharing the gospel. Keep proclaiming Christ. And as you do, know that the Lord will accomplish all he intends to accomplish through you as you faithfully press on doing the same old thing.