Don't Be Cruel

Jeremiah 27:1 This is what the Lord says: “Do not listen
to your prophets who claim that soon the gold articles taken from my
Temple will be returned from Babylon. It is all a lie! Do not listen to them”

Have you noticed how difficult it is for elected
officials to break bad news to their citizens?
Numerous countries are drowning in debt, yet
most leaders refuse to raise taxes or cut benefits. Figuring
that bankruptcy will be the next government’s problem,
they happily kick the crisis down the road.

These leaders act like the false prophets in Jerusalem.
God had punished Israel’s idolatry by sending
Nebuchadnezzar to plunder the city and carry off her
best and brightest into captivity. Jeremiah told God’s
people that He wanted them to submit to Babylon for the
foreseeable future, and that after a while He would bring
them “back to Jerusalem again” (Jeremiah 27:22).

This struck many citizens as overly pessimistic, and
false prophets such as Hananiah declared that God
would intervene and destroy Babylon within two years
(28:10-11). Then it was God’s turn to be exasperated. He
told Jeremiah to inform Hananiah that he would die, for
his lies had cruelly filled the beaten-down Israelites with
false hope (vv.15-16).

Giving a thumbs-up when we know better is the worst
kind of mean. We must not encourage friends who
are struggling with sin to simply grit their teeth and
try harder, for they can simply beat it. If they rely on
themselves rather than God, they’ll end up back where
they started—drowning their sorrows in their addictions.

We must also never assure people that regardless of whom they trust or how
they live, a loving God will take them and everyone to heaven. It may seem
harsh to warn people about hell, but if you believe that hell is real, it would be
unspeakably cruel not to tell them. We humbly share bad news, not because
it’s fun but because it’s the first step toward hope.

—Mike Wittmer

Read Matthew 23:1 and consider how Jesus’ tough words for the
religious leaders were a sign of His love.

What bad news, either about yourself or others, have you been ignoring
because it seems too painful to confront? What steps can you take
to face your problem and begin the journey to wellness by God’s