The ears of our generation have been made so delicate by the senseless multitude of flatterers that, as soon as we perceive that anything of ours is not approved of, we cry out that we are being bitterly assailed; and when we can repel the truth by no other pretense, we escape by attributing bitterness, impatience, intemperance, to our adversaries.
It seems to me that not much has changed since the 16th century when Martin Luther wrote these words. The only difference between then and now is we have new words with which to ascribe. Today that which makes our ears delicate we give such happy words like self-esteem and tolerance. And that which hurts our delicate sensibilities we give names such as bigotry and hate-speech. We like to think that such things are new and perhaps to many of us, they are. I for one can recall growing up in the ’80s and early ’90s that when your feelings were hurt or your sensibilities where offended, you accepted it like an adult and moved on. Then came the wave of political correctness that has gotten so large, that upsetting someone in some cases is considered a punishable crime.
In the opinion of those delicate-eared persons, nothing could be more bitter or intemperate than Paul’s language.
Martin Luther nailed it on the head with this. And so did scripture. Those with delicate ears would make the Christian out to be the devil himself. A deceiver full of hate and loathing. But it is not just the rest of the world with delicate ears; it is Christians too! For some Christians when you speak of doctrine or Gospel, their ears curl and their hearts lurch because what you say is antithetical to how they view a particular part of Christianity. They deem you full of hate and not of Jesus’ love. Yet to those whose ears are not fragile, they would see, even if they disagree with you, that you come not in hatred but in love! In charity! And they would accept your words as good and kind, even if they themselves disagree with what you have to say.
If there is a light in all of this it is that delicate ears can be broken. When a glass is broken, it must be replaced with a stronger one so that it is not broken again. So when a delicate ear is broken, say by the law, then it must be replaced with an ear that is strengthened by the Gospel. And that is because faith comes through hearing, whether we want to hear it or not.