Jeremiah’s work as a prophet is something from which Christians, especially preachers, can learn so much today. He was put down, persecuted, and pressured from every side, just as he was warned from the beginning of his work for God. As God braces him for the challenges he would face, He tells him there is something for him not to say, be, or do. These same admonitions can guide us as we live the Christian life.
There Is Something Not To Say (Jer. 1:7). Jeremiah was instructed not to talk about his perceived disadvantages and shortcomings. For him, it was his youth. May I suggest that you can always find an excuse for not serving Christ. All of us have deficiencies, but that is the beauty of partnering with God. As Paul said, regarding God’s response to his “thorn in the flesh,” “Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake ; for when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). You can always talk about impediments. God wants you to focus on what He can do through you.
There Is Something Not To Be (Jer. 1:8). Jeremiah was going to be put through the ringer, so we can sympathize as he may have been filled with fear. God anticipated as much, telling him, “Do not be afraid of them.” Evangelism can be daunting business. We imagine all kinds of negative responses to our overtures, and sometimes we will even experience rejection and possibly ridicule. Let us remember what the timid Timothy was told, that “God has not given us a spirit of fear” (2 Tim. 1:7).
There Is Something Not To Do (Jer. 1:17ff). In telling Jeremiah not to be dismayed, there is an implication that in his distress he might remain immobile. God says, “Gird up your loins and arise.” To faithfully serve God, we cannot let fear (or worry, laziness, apathy, etc.) paralyze us. The one talent man was condemned, not for doing wrong but for doing nothing! May we remember this!
In serving God, do not speak of your shortcomings, remain in your fears, or become immobilized. The hymn exhorts us to say with another prophet, Isaiah, “Here am I! Lord, send me!”