For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers
to say what their itching ears want to hear.
2 Timothy 4:3
Today is a slight diversion from our week’s train of thought but the heart of the matter,
in the end, remains very much on track.
So an odd thing happened this afternoon when I out was watering the plants.
I say that it was an odd thing but it was actually more like a sheer panic sort of thing…
There I was, in the sweltering sun, minding my own business as I mindlessly watered my plants…
Suddenly, out of nowhere, some sort of flying creature flew up from a bush—
it hit my glasses and next, how I have not a clue but, it ricocheted into my left ear.
Yep, you read correctly, right into my ear.
Well, I instinctively thought that it would fly right back out as bugs tend to fly in
and out and all around this time of year but this bug was in my ear and it
did not immediately exit.
I’ve heard of these sorts of things happening before to other people but in my actual
real life…surely not.
Yet happen it did and I thought I would die.
Die from panic mind you and not so much because of the bug,
So to put it mildly, I confess that I began to freak out as I could feel
vibrations deep in my head.
AGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH, I screamed like a banshee as I dropped the
running hose and ran like a crazy woman into the house.
I was screaming so frantically that my husband came running expecting to see a severed appendage.
I stammered something about the bug as I raced passed him,
running straight into the bathroom.
I grabbed a Q-Tip while my husband tried to stop me…
I shoved that thing into my ear hoping to pull out the bug.
Since that didn’t work, and if the truth be told, I probably pushed that sucker deeper
into my head, I could still felt vibrations.
Next, I grabbed a bottle of rubbing alcohol and proceeded to turn the bottle up,
pouring it into my ear.
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!! screamed my poor husband???
“KILLING THE BUG” I screamed in response…praying it would now “wash” out of my ear
while alcohol ran down my face and neck.
Yet there was nothing.
“THE ER”, I screamed, “WE’VE GOT TO GO TO THE ER!!!!!”
But suddenly the thought of the pandemic swirling around the hospital,
calmed my brain long enough for me to think of my ENT…
the Ear Nose and Throat doctor…
Call the ENT the small voice in my head calmly said.
And no, it was not the voice of the bug.
Frantic, I grabbed my phone and put it up to my bugged ear.
When the gal at the doctor’s office answered, I practically screamed into the phone…
“A BUG FLEW IN MY EAR AND IS STILL THERE!!!
“How fast can you get here?” she asked.
“5 minutes” I responded.
I had hoped the alcohol had drowned the bug but I could still feel fluttering
from time to time.
My husband told me he’d drive as he feared I’d wreck if I drove.
I practically jumped out of his truck, running into the building.
It was right at 4 PM and they were about to close for the holiday weekend.
The nurse came to the door and called me back—
I was still in my ‘work in the yard’ clothes and I was holding a mask that I’d thought to
grab if they said I needed to wear one.
But with a bug literally in my ear, masks were the last thing on my mind.
When the doctor came in, I screamed
“YOU’VE GOT TO GET THIS THING OUT OF MY EAR, NOW!!!!”
He proceeds to look in my good ear while I explained what happened.
I told him about the Q-Tip.
“Ahh, a stick of Satan…”
“Do you like Satan?”
“Of course not!”
Then DON’T USE Q-Tips!!
I’d always heard ear doctors didn’t like Q-Tips.
“Do my ears look bad???” I stammered, worried I’d done something terrible by cleaning my ears.
“No, they’re clean as a whistle but if you had a little ear wax, that bug probably wouldn’t
have gone on in.”
He takes the light and shines it into my left ear.
“Yep, there’s the little sucker alright.”
Can you get it???” I wail…
“Tilt your head as I don’t think we need the scope.”
Two seconds in and out with the long tweezers and he had the bug.
“Well, I’ll be, that looks to be a baby lightning bug” he triumphantly announces
as he shows off his catch.
“Great,” I thought, my head could have blinked all night.
$45 and 10 minutes later I was out the door.
And so yes, after this terrible episode was over, the verse about itchy ears came racing
to the forefront of my thoughts.
And that verse is exceedingly applicable given this past week’s musings.
Our entire culture is scratching at their itchy ears…
and only yearning for more…and so I offer an interesting article regarding
this problem with our itching ears…minus the bugs mind you…
Got Questions–Your Questions. Biblical Answers. explains this verse further:
The apostle Paul wrote a warning for the church:
“The time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.
Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them
a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear”
(2 Timothy 4:3).
The Greek word translated “itching” literally means
“to itch, rub, scratch, or tickle.” To want one’s ears “tickled” is to desire massages
rather than messages—sermons that charm rather than challenge,
entertain rather than edify, and please rather than preach.
The people Paul warns about will have, as one commentator put it,
“ears which have to be continually titillated with novelties.”
“Itching ears” is a figure of speech that refers to people’s desires,
felt needs, or wants.
It is these desires that impel a person to believe whatever he wants to believe rather
than the actual truth itself. When people have “itching ears,”
they decide for themselves what is right or wrong,
and they seek out others to support their notions.
“Itching ears” are concerned with what feels good or comfortable,
not with the truth—after all, truth is often uncomfortable.
Paul’s warning is that the church would one day contain those who only
opened their ears to those who would scratch their “itch.”
Those with “itching ears” only want teachers who will assure them that all is well,
teachers who say, “Peace, peace . . . when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 6:14).
Where there is a demand for something, the suppliers are not far away.
Paul says that not only will there be great demand for watered-down,
personalized messages, but there will be “a great number of teachers”
willing to provide such pap and steer people away from “sound doctrine.”
Evidence today of people having “itching ears” includes the popularity
of messages that people are not required to change, as if repentance were outmoded;
that people are basically good; that God is too loving to judge anyone;
that the cross, with all its blood, is not really necessary;
and that God wants His children to be healthy, wealthy,
and content in this world. As people turn their backs on the truth about sin and condemnation,
they disregard their need for repentance and forgiveness. And a craving for
“new” and “fresher” ideas grows—even though there is “nothing new under the sun”
accompanied by a longing to feel good about who they are and where they’re going.
Messages that tickle ears can fill a lot of churches, sell a lot of books,
and buy a lot of time on cable tv.
Some of the early followers of Jesus complained about some of the Lord’s words:
“Many of his disciples said, ʻThis is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?’…
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him”
(John 6:60, 66). Walking away from hard truth is easy to do.
In today’s postmodern church, we see many walking away from the hard truth.
Some churches that once preached sound doctrine now teach as acceptable
the very evils the Bible condemns.
Some pastors are afraid to preach on certain passages of the Bible.
“Christian feminists” deny God as a heavenly Father, calling Him a “she.”
“Gay Christians” are not only welcomed without repentance into
church fellowship but into the pulpit, as well.
The church’s remedy for those who have “itching ears”
is found in the same passage of 2 Timothy: “Preach the word;
be prepared in season and out of season; correct,
rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).
It is a solemn charge, made “in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus,
who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom”
And it contains all the elements needed to combat the temptation to tickle ears:
preach, correct, rebuke, and encourage. The content of preaching must be the written
Word of God, and it must be preached when convenient and when inconvenient.
This takes “great patience and careful instruction,” but sound doctrine is worth it.
The church’s quest to manage the comfort level of its audience must never take priority
over preaching the Word. The fear of offending people’s sensibilities can never supersede
the fear of offending God. Rather, the church should follow the example of the apostles:
“We have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception,
nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary,
by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience
in the sight of God” (2 Corinthians 4:2).
The church today, more than ever, needs to re-examine the teachings it endorses.
We need to ask ourselves the following questions:
• Are our teachings truly from God or simply itches we want to scratch?
• Are we standing on solid biblical grounds, or have we allowed the world to influence our thinking?
• Have we guarded ourselves from the schemes of Satan (Ephesians 6:11)?
• Are we keeping ourselves “blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ”
(1 Thessalonians 5:23)?
The truth is, God is not concerned with scratching our itches but in transforming
us into the image of His Son (Romans 12:2; 2 Corinthians 4:4).