The Message or the Messenger: Which Is Important?

In reference to preaching Christ’s resurrection, Paul told the Corinthians, “… whether it was I or they, so we preach and so you believed” (1 Cor. 15:11). He essentially said it does not matter who the messenger was, what matters is the message. Yet, many people believe the messenger is more important than the message.

The messenger-over-the-message attitude is sometimes revealed when people seek for a polished preacher or no preacher at all. He must be articulate, witty, sharp, well-educated, etc. They consider the man more important than the message (cp. 1 Cor. 3:1-4).

Related to this is the idea that a messenger is to be rejected if he brings a “bad” message. People with the first attitude generally have this one as well. If the message does not fit with their preconceived ideas or it condemns them, then they often get mad at the messenger. Asa was like this. When Hanani condemned him for not relying on God, Asa became angry and put him in prison (2 Chron. 16:7-10).

Many people today would be happy to hear an educated man like Paul preach a “positive” sermon on grace or love, but reject him if he identified false teachers (cp. Acts 22:3; Gal. 1:14; 1 Cor. 13:1-8; 2 Tim. 2:16-18). Likewise, many would reject a wilderness man like John, regardless of what he had to say (Mk. 1:6).

So, what is more important to you, the message or the messenger? Do you want a polished preacher or no preacher at all? Do you get angry with the messenger when you do not like the message? Examine yourself.

Steven F. Deaton