Paul warned Timothy that the time would come when brethren “would not endure sound doctrine,” but would want something they could say was more positive and ear-tickling. Of course, they would judge that teaching as “so upbeat” and “so encouraging.” The preacher would have to fix their desires rather than preach such negative things as you see in Paul’s letters to Corinth.
Those who have long been drinking from books of men touting an all-positive-pep-rally-like assembly have tired of sound and solid lessons from the Bible. They have unwittingly been taken captive to a theory of how things should be, how I should feel during and after an assembly, and they come to the assembly with their mind made up that if the lesson is negative or biblically factual, the preacher is “out of touch” with our “felt needs.”
This “itching ears syndrome” will then move a church to get rid of sound, solid, gospel preachers and find men who will oblige them in “tickling their ears” (2 Timothy 4:1-4).
The only thing that needs to matter to us is: 1) Is this preaching true to God’s word (1 Peter 4:11)? 2) Does it “convince, rebuke, and exhort” us to believe right and do right (2 Timothy 4:2)? 3) Are we growing more in what the Bible presents for our learning (Romans 15:4)? 4) Are we learning how to use the Bible in ways that improve our service to God and in our ability to teach it to others (Acts 18:26)? 5) Are we learning how to “contend earnestly for the faith” when necessary (Jude 3)?
Be careful not to let others influence you by passing along their “itching ears syndrome” to you.
Adapted from Terry W. Benton