There is coming a final day of accountability for every expositor in which he will be made subject to the searching scrutiny of the Lord Jesus Christ. Though all his sins have been forgiven and there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ, the preacher nevertheless will stand one day before the One who enlisted him, as a servant to his master, and give an account for his ministry. On that last day, every preacher will be judged, though not for the size of his congregation, nor the number of his staff. He will not be examined for the volume of his budget, nor for the upward mobility of his flock. In large measure, he will be reviewed for his handling of the written Word of God.
So begins the opening paragraph of an article entitled, “The Preacher and his Accountability,” written by Steven J. Lawson in the July/August 2015 issue of Expositor magazine. The author goes on to explain how those who preach the Scriptures need to follow the Apostle Paul’s instructions in 2 Timothy 2:15.
Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Lawson makes four key points in explaining and applying the verse to today’s pastors:
- First, rightly handling Scripture requires hard work.
- Second, rightly handling Scripture requires skillful precision.
- Third, rightly handling Scripture involves God’s approval.
- Fourth, rightly handling Scripture avoids potential shame.
Lawson closes his article by stating,
By present standards, we are prone to judge a minister by the visible response to his preaching. That is usually measured by the number of people who come to hear him. It is often determined by the size of the congregation. However, God has an entirely different standard of judgment. It may—or may not—involve the vastness of the crowd who comes to hear the preacher. Instead, God is looking, first and foremost, at the purity of the message itself. The divine criterion is: Did this servant of the Word rightly handle it?
The article is a good reminder for those of us who preach, and one I need to take to heart.