Enjoying the Journey
Long before I was a preacher I was a sinner. We would like to think that this changes over time, but I am still a sinner! One of God’s great preachers said it best: “O wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24).
For sure, we should be sinning less but we are not sinless. Only Christ is that. Sometimes in the busyness of ministry, surrounded by so much religious context, we are prone to forget how wicked our hearts truly are. The flesh never gets better. It cannot be trusted.
Deep within the most holy man is the unholy current of sin. There is in ALL of us a rebel heart. Sometimes it even comes out clothed in “preacher talk” but religious flesh is still flesh, and it doesn’t please God.
Paul referenced some ministers who “seek their own” instead of the things that are Christ’s (Philippians 2:21). This is just an expression of selfishness and it must be guarded in all of our lives and ministries.
Rebellion can even come out in our attitude toward those who have ministered to us and mentored us. The psalmist makes it plain that a man can grow in his knowledge of God beyond merely the instruction of his teachers: “I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation. I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts” (Psalm 119:99-100).
However, when a man “grows” to the point that he begins to belittle his teachers it is an expression of a proud heart – and no one is a good teacher who loses their own student heart! As you are building up your faith never forget those who helped lay the foundation. You cannot build while you are tearing down.
All through Scripture we see men’s strengths becoming their weaknesses. Moses’ meekness becomes unrighteous anger. David’s passionate heart becomes unholy passion. Elijah’s strength becomes weariness.
Oswald Chambers wrote that “an unguarded strength is a double weakness.” Every gift left unchecked, unyielded, becomes a liability. Nimrod the mighty hunter becomes Babel, the place of confusion and chaos (Genesis 10:8-11). Every good thing can become a bad thing if it is not ruled by God Himself. Guard your heart, especially if the Lord is blessing. Sometimes the greatest battles and defeats come in the midst of great victories.
Hudson Taylor wrote to his sister after many years on the mission field, “I never knew how bad a heart I had.” That is the truth for all of us. Rebellion is still as the sin of witchcraft…even if it is found in religious men.
My first ministry must always be to keep my own rebel heart submitted to Christ.