Jeremiah 18:20 Shall evil be recompensed for good? for they have digged a pit for my soul. Remember that I stood before thee to speak good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them.
The prophet Jeremiah was a remarkable man. He received nothing but opposition from the people he preached to throughout the course of his entire ministry, yet he never lost his commitment to the God Who had called him nor his love for the people to whom he preached. There are so many important lessons we as Christians can learn from the life and ministry of this dedicated servant of the Lord.
The passage before us, I believe, provides a wonderful summary of our aim in public evangelism. Notice how a consistent, faithful, and effective public witness requires what we find Jeremiah to have – both an unwavering dedication to his duty before God (I stood before thee) AND a real desire to be a blessing to the people that God sent Him to reach (good for them, and to turn away thy wrath from them).
Brethren, both are absolutely necessary. If you have either one without the other, either your efforts will be fruitless and ineffective, or it won't be long before the evil being recompensed for your good and pit being digged for your soul will make a quitter of you.
So why do we preach publicly? (1) In obedience to the Lord's command AND (2) in order to turn the lost to the way of deliverance.
And how should we preach publicly? Well, we should speak good (see Ephesians 4:15; Colossians 4:6). We don't sugar-coat the wrath, but the reason we bring it up is so that men, women, boys, and girls can be delivered from it (Luke 13:5; 2 Peter 3:9).