The Negative and the Positive

Jeremiah was given these instructions about how to minister God’s Word:

. . . uproot and tear down . . . destroy and demolish . . . build and plant.                              Jeremiah 1: 10

The messages that he was to bring to a sinning people were of two sorts—one negative and one positive.

It is certain that when ministering God’s Word, like Jeremiah, the faithful biblical preacher today will find himself doing both of these things.

What is noteworthy about these directions is that two are negative injunctions but only one is positive. Why is that? Though the passage doesn’t tell us, we can think of various reasons why this may be so.

Here are a couple of possible reasons:

  1. It is always more pleasant to preach about good things: things that lead to building and planting. Few like to emphasize the negative.  Nor do those who listen like to hear it! So the positive is easier than the negative.
  2. Because it is harder to dislodge hardened sinners from their sin than it is to help repentant sinners to do what God commands, negative preaching is more difficult to do.

Whether or not these were among God’s reasons for a double negative and a single positive reference can be questioned, but whether or not we should preach both today cannot. Preacher, keep that in mind this week as you prepare your messages!

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