The story is told of an early nineteenth century preacher opposing the "ordination" of a certain "candidate for the ministry" on the ground that he had big, ugly feet. He pointed out that the Bible says, "How beautiful.. are the feet of him that bringeth glad tidings — that publisheth salvation" (Isa. 52:7). The candidate certainly didn't have beautiful feet, therefore was not qualified to preach. Wit rather than truth played the leading role in this scene from the past.
Feet are the universal means of locomotion, of getting a message from one place to another, long before the "pony express" etc., feet carried the news. The news has been carried by feet as long as there has been news; even modern news media has failed to completely take over that function from the feet.
The good news of salvation is so agreeable that it can be said of him "that publisheth" it — "how beautiful" are his feet. The idea is how beautiful is the coming of such a messenger. The bearer of such good news is welcome to those who welcome the message. Those who love and welcome the news, love and welcome the messenger. Those who despise the truth cannot respect the preacher of truth. Those who have cultivated "the love of the truth," love the faithful preacher of truth.
The apostle Paul quoted the language of Isaiah (Rom. 10:15) as being realized in the original proclamation of the gospel by those whom the Lord "sent" to all men with the news of salvation. While we know that the apostles are the ones to whom the prophecy primarily refers, yet, no violence to scripture is done by preachers realizing that they must have "beautiful feet" if they are to be welcomed by good and honest hearts and blessed of God. Christians need to learn that blanket hatred of preachers blinds them to the "beautiful feet" of faithful preachers.
"That Is Just Preachers For You"
Unpleasant experiences with unpleasant preachers sometimes warp people's attitudes. When a preacher, young or old, manifests a lack of wisdom — when some secular-oriented preacher's unsanctified ambitions become evident — when his worldly mind is demonstrated in behavior — when some preacher "Sweareth to his own hurt" and welchs on his agreement — when some preacher forsakes the preaching of the gospel "having loved this present world" — when some preacher lies, steals, commits fornication or any other sin and it becomes public knowledge, someone is bound to say, "That is just preachers for you." The injustice of this blanket condemnation of preachers is realized when reason regains the "saddle." Thoughtfulness leads to the realization that there are faithful gospel preachers dedicated to the Lord and "seeking His kingdom and His righteousness" first. Failure to recognize "how beautiful are the feet" of such is no reflection on them.
The "preacher image" is poor. The various media of information and entertainment have often presented preachers as bigoted, fanatical, superstitious, unscientific, etc., this has become the concept of many. Along with other factors which contribute to the poor preacher image are those to whom "the beauty of holiness" has no appeal.
The same prophet (Isaiah) who wrote "how beautiful are the feet of them that bring glad tidings of good things" also wrote, "Who hath believed our message. . . he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him there is no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected of men; and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not" (Isa. 53:1-4). The "message" which was not believed is the gospel. The reason assigned for the message not being believed is that the one with whom the gospel was concerned, had "no beauty that we should desire him." The holiness of Christ is not the kind of beauty that the worldly mind or evil mind desires. Consequently, neither the message nor the messenger are welcome. From such a heart it is expected that expressions of contempt for faithful preachers should proceed.
But preachers are not exempt from the responsibility to have spiritual comeliness. We must exercise wisdom, emphasize the spiritual in our own personal life as well as preaching to others to "seek ye first his kingdom and his righteousness" (Matt. 6:33). Constant complaining, whining, "nit-picking," bickering, does not contribute to "beautiful feet." Conceit and jealousy have often been charged against preachers. Probably none of us but recognize that conceit and childish jealousy does exist among preachers. How many have stopped to say, "Lord, is it I?"
(Titus 2:11-15) "For the grace of God hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us, to the intent that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world; looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a people for His own possession, zealous of good works. These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no man despise thee."
— Box 141, Lewisville, Texas