Perhaps the most frequent question I have been asked through the years immediately after I have finished preaching is, “Were you preaching to me?” Unfortunately, I have not always answered that as effectively as I should. Then, one day while listening to a great lesson on leadership by James Rogers, I heard his response. A young man asked him that question, to which he replied, “Were you here this morning?” “Yes.” “Of course I was preaching to you.” The young man was glad. It would not have made sense for him to come and the sermon not be preached to him.
I have always worked hard to never write a sermon with a specific individual in mind. I may preach sermons that address certain personalities or characteristic traits, but I was wisely warned when training to preach that using the pulpit to address personal vendettas, grievances, or grudges was extreme cowardice. Doing that is unfair and abusive!
However, I would say to every hearer of my every sermon, I am indeed preaching to you! Please take each sermon to heart (as I do!). As you inspect it for truth, accept it if it is truth, and inspect your life by that truth. There are those who are too hard on themselves and beat themselves up with unnecessary guilt as they hear sermons. Yet, others who need to apply the lesson fail to make (or fight against making) personal application.
If the sermon is on making the Lord most important in life by faithfully attending services and you allow sports, occupation, homework, company, or other things to persistently replace that, the sermon is being preached to you. If it is on making an effort to know your brethren better or visit the sick, widows, orphans, and needy and you are not doing it, take the sermon personally! In fact, whatever the subject, apply it to yourself. A good brother once told me, “I always take the sermon personally because I could always be doing my Christian duty better.” Amen, brother! So could I!
Please take each and every sermon personally! It makes me feel like the time studying and preparing it was worthwhile. And, always respond to it—not publicly, unless you need to do so. Let it help make you a better Christian and better prepare you for heaven. Hopefully, we can come to appreciate that the preacher is always preaching to each one of us, including himself!