As long as man has a sinful nature, man will have itchy ears. As long as man listens to the lie that he needs to make himself righteous, he will always try to turn the Gospel of Jesus Christ into a device for his own glory. And he’ll get angry when the preachers of the Gospel don’t speak the words that scratch the itch and give him the self-righteousness satisfaction.
So your sinful nature will rejoice when your pastor preaches against sins that others commit, sins that you don’t struggle with or that don’t attack your conscience. But your sinful nature will recoil in horror as your own transgressions are set before you, and when the hypocrisy of your own heart is revealed. Your sinful nature will rejoice to hear your pastor say that Jesus has come to give you a crown of glory, but it will shriek in agony when the pastor calls you to die to yourself first and shows you how the glory radiating from that crown is forged from the accomplishments of Christ, and not your own.
So sinners in every generation want to pervert the Gospel and make it a slave of their own self-righteousness, which means that pastors in every generation need to be ready for that battle. Pastors need to know that people will lie about them, slander them, betray them even after decades of faithful service the moment that they refuse to scratch the self-righteous itch of those under the power of their sinful nature. And because of this, we should pray that God would give our shepherds strength to endure the slings and arrows of the itchy-eared hypocrites, just as we should pray that God would give His sheep the strength to reject the lies of Satan and their old man.
In all of this, may God give us a far greater satisfaction than a temporarily scratched itch. May God give us the eternal balm and comfort of the Holy Spirit, who proclaims to us that all our rashed-over flesh has been restored through the broken flesh of Jesus Christ, who proclaims that our leprous souls were healed the moment we received the cleansing blood of God’s own Son. Through Jesus Christ, we have something far greater than a scratched ear. We have eternal healing of body and soul.