The Apostle Paul on Mars Hill in Athens long ago shows us how to proclaim the gospel in a secular, hostile age.
Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved.
We serve a God who sustains and gives rest to His burdened children. He helps his children endure times of difficulty. The word “burden” can mean lot in life… that which is given by God. That which is given to us by the Lord in his providence. However, we can create our own burdens by our own sinful choices and actions (2 Timothy 3:6).
The Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 speaks of ‘burden’ in the first sense – an affliction, difficulty, and overwhelming circumstance: “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself.”
This example is a good reminder of what happens when we hold onto our burden rather than cast it on the Lord by prayer… we become overwhelmed and we despair.
In 2 Corinthians 5:4, Paul reminds us that just living life in a broken and fallen world brings its own burden. – “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened—not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.”
When I forget this about the Lord, I carry the burden. I try to solve the problem. I become anxious, worried, and bothered by the burden. I attempt to box with God regarding why I have this burden in my life. Like the text says, I am moved and shaken. I totter, slip, and fall.
Jesus’ prescription for those who are burdened is simple: “Come to me,” “learn from me,” and “take” from me!
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).
It appears that the Apostle Peter picked up this teaching of Jesus when he calls believers to “cast all your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you” (1 Peter 5:6).
If the truths of Psalm 55:22 were more real to me, how would I live differently?
Rather than becoming anxiously burdened down, I would more quickly cast my burden on the Lord. What a wonderful resource is prayer for unburdening my heart in the presence of the Lord. Lord, help me to more quickly avail myself of access to your presence and power through prayer.
Experiencing the soul rest that the Lord Jesus promises empowers me to bear others burdens and thus fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Show me Lord how to do this today!
Jesus said: “I am among you as one that serves” and “I did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.” The Apostle Paul reiterated Jesus’ philosophy of leadership: “Ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, we are his debtor to serve him until he does. The mainspring of our service must not ultimately be love for men, but love for Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.
How Jesus Christ has dealt with us must be the secret of our determination to serve others. No matter how others may treat me, they will never treat me with the spite and hatred with which I treated Jesus Christ. When we realize that Jesus Christ has served us to the end of our meanness, our selfishness, and sin, nothing that we meet with from others can exhaust our determination to serve men for His sake.
Jesus said: “I am among you as one that serves” and “I did not come to be served, but to serve and to give my life as a ransom for many.” The Apostle Paul’s idea of service is the same as our Lord’s: “Ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” So long as there is a human being who does not know Jesus Christ, I am his debtor to serve him until he does. The mainspring of our service must not ultimately be love for men, but love for Jesus Christ. If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken–hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog; but if our motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.
Paul’s realization of how Jesus Christ had dealt with him is the secret of his determination to serve others. “I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor”—no matter how men may treat me, they will never treat me with the spite and hatred with which I treated Jesus Christ. When we realize that Jesus Christ has served us to the end of our meanness, our selfishness, and sin, nothing that we meet with from others can exhaust our determination to serve men for His sake.
— Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, February 13th.
The Apostle Paul reminds Timothy and us that pastors and all church leaders must be those who “hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9). This hit me with new force today in light of recent pastor scandals in the evangelical church in America.
Alexander McColl once asked his congregation in a sermon:
“What kind of minister would you like as your minister?” Then he answered his own question. “For myself, I would like a minister who had been scorched by the law, melted by the gospel, and much sifted by the temptations of Satan.”
Well, I would like to receive counsel from an elder who was the same sort of man and who had had the same sort of spiritual experience. He could tell, out of his own personal experience, what the Lord means by what he says in his Word, how best to resist temptation and the devil, how to trust in the Lord and his Word, how to make my way through a difficult set of circumstances.
Life is simply too complicated, and I am simply too weak, to make it through by myself without the counsel of others, their correction, their advice, their encouragement. I need wise and godly counsel, and who can give that to me except a man who, as Paul says, holds to the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience.
These lessons come from the last verses in Paul’s great letter to the church in Ephesus.
After twenty years of ministry experience…
- He believed in the necessity of intercessory prayer for ministry effectiveness and fruitfulness (v.18-19a –praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,and also for me...”).
- He believed that ministry effectiveness and fruitfulness centered on communicating the gospel clearly and boldly (v. 19b – “that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel”).
- He believed in the necessity of the Holy Spirit’s illumination and empowerment (v. 19 – “words may be given me”).
- He believed in ministry partnerships (Friends praying for him and he for them.)
- He believed in missional living in the midst of adverse circumstances (v. 20 – “an ambassador in chains”).
- He believed that cowardly compromise was a persistent threat to his mission. Thus, fearless and bold communication of the gospel was imperative (v. 19&20 – “opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak”).
If a man has no accountability, should his wife hold him accountable?
In my opinion, it depends on what area he needs the accountability. My general counsel is that a wife should NOT serve as her husband’s accountability partner to monitor internet usage. I would encourage the husband to have a couple of other men who ask him the hard questions. Also, “Covenant Eyes” is a software program that provides excellent accountability. At the minimum, I would suggest that the husband have one older man to serve as a mentor who is committed to providing accountability, encouragement and prayer. This friend should be empowered to discuss any issue of concern that he has with the man’s wife.
However, if the issue is a general lack of spiritual leadership in the home, the wife should gently encourage and urge her husband to take the mantle and lead. Wives, you walk a fine line with this. How easy it is to become a nagging and complaining wife. This is extremely repulsive and will serve to demotivate your husband. However, wives, it would be beneficial to ask your husband what you could do to help him to better serve as a family shepherd. State very clearly and specifically what you would like for your husband to do and why. Express up front that you don’t want to nag him. Unfortunately, over the years, I needed several reminders from my wife before I started focusing on my role as the spiritual leader of our family.
Husband, you are the head of your household. Yes, your wife is called to respect and submit to you. However, your leadership is a servant-hearted leadership. You are to gladly do whatever would encourage and build up your wife. The Apostle Paul’s magnificent passage on marriage starts like this: “Submit to one another out of your reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). All of us husbands are to rank ourselves under our wives and work diligently to love, cherish, and serve them.
Husbands, give your wives permission to admonish you. This is a mark of a Christ-like, humble person. Colossians 3:16 calls all followers of Jesus to this ministry: “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.”
Wives, it is imperative that your admonition and rebuke comes from Scripture and not from your own wounded pride and preferences that you have. Proverbs 27:6 says that “faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.” Initially, I have always been defensive when my wife comes to admonish me about something I have done or failed to do in my leadership of the family. However, the gospel of God’s grace helps me to pull down my defense shields quicker and seek out the kernels of truth that I need to heed in order to become the man that God wants me to be.