When you spend your entire life in the ministry of the Word you are always thinking, observing and evaluating what do the people need at a particular point in time.
While it is important to “preach the whole counsel of God,” some things are more needful than others at a specific church at a certain time. Just like Paul dealt with specific issues with the Corinthian church, or John addressed the unique challenges of the 7 churches of Asia, a thoughtful preacher will consider what is most appropriate to the audience where he is preaching.
The challenge for those of us who preach is to be so focused on what others need that we fail to see what we need. What personal, family or spiritual challenges are we facing? What temptations are we experiencing? What are our strengths? Weaknesses? Talents? Or opportunities?
The apostle Paul reminded Timothy of the importance of self-evaluation when he admonished him in 1 Timothy 4:16. “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.”
The expression “take heed” means to observe, to attend to, or pay attention to.” Various English translations render this “Watch your life.” “Pay close attention to yourself.” “Keep a close watch on yourself.” “Be conscientious about how you live.” “And be careful about the way you live.”
It is human nature to easily see and seek to correct the faults and flaws of others but fail to detect our own deficiency of character or conduct. Even if you are a preacher. We, too, are tempted by pride. Selfishness. Greed. And lusts. So, those of us who preach must take heed. And pay attention to our own personal lives.
This is also true of those who Shepherd the church. Pastors, by the very nature of their qualifications to oversee the church, should be the most mature and spiritually minded men among us. Yet, to them, the apostle also issues this warning.
“Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” (Ax 20:28)
It is possible for spiritual leaders to be so absorbed with the needs of the church, the problems of the members and planning for the future, that they neglect their own spiritual growth. Fail to see their own foibles. And become susceptible to the seductions of Satan. Elders must pay attention to their souls as well. Be careful how they live. And what example they are setting before the church. Their actions and attitudes can either influence the church to greater spiritual growth or discourage and demoralize it. These words will serve them well as they lead others. “Take heed.”
Of course, all Christians need to “take heed” to themselves. This expression is found 49 times in both the Old and New Testament. Moses warned Israel as they were about to enter the promised land to “take heed” not to be lifted up with pride, be influenced by the idolatry of the heathens and forget God.”
More than once Jesus warned against hypocrisy, neglect, and covetousness with the words “take heed.” In fact, He said that we need to “take heed” lest we be deceived, and to “take heed” that we are really hearing the Word as God intended.
“Take heed” is an admonition we all need to take to heart.
Parents “take heed to your responsibilities in child-rearing. pay attention to the challenges your children face. Observe their behavior. Be careful how you discipline. And watch out for not only their physical well-being but also their spiritual welfare.
Young people need to “take heed. Watch out for the wiles of the Devil as he tempts you to soil your soul. Be careful about the friends you keep. Pay attention to what you post on social media. Watch out for bad habits that may creep into your life. And be alert to the pitfalls that can ruin your reputation, hurt you physically and harm you spiritually. “Take heed’ to the temptations of drugs, alcohol, and sexual immorality.
In short, each of us would do well to really internalize this simple exhortation.
“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor 10:12).
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman