The Self-Willed Servant
As he closed his second epistle to the Corinthians, Paul responded to the doubts of some Corinthian believers as to whether he was indeed a spokesman for Christ. Paul insisted that he was an apostle
Paul’s teaching tells us important things about the church and its ministry. There are different gifts but the same Lord. The Spirit gives believers gifts to build up the church. Paul named some of these
Paul rejoiced in the new liberty he had experienced in Christ. Freed from the restrictions Jewish leaders tried to impose on the faithful, he had no obligation except to love his brothers and sisters in
A fairly common belief among some is that those in Christian service do not suffer the same temptations that others do. For some inexplicable reason, being in full-time service is thought to exempt one from the devil’s wiles. Some may even have gone into Christian ministry thinking that once they were in the pulpit or on the mission field, they would be able to withstand the temptings that currently plagued them. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Samson’s life serves to illustrate the point that Satan does not take a holiday when God sends someone into His service. Of the lessons to be learned in a study of Samson’s life, here are a few. Temptations come to those who are called to serve. As any person in ministry will attest, temptations not only are still there but also seem to increase. Not only do they increase; there is also nowhere to escape from them. Missionaries on foreign fields concur that changing one’s location does not change the sinfulness of one’s heart. The temptations may be different in other places, but they do not cease. Another fact is that the enemy loves to see God’s children fall. He thus increases temptation in an effort to make God’s servant commit sin and thereby lose his effectiveness in ministry. God’s servants may well come under direct attack in the area of their weakness because Satan knows he can hinder the work of God when he can get God’s ministers to fall.
Like Samson, too many of god’s chosen have given in and become weakened. The headlines in recent years revealing the sins of prominent Christians are only the tip of the iceberg. Sadly, the actual casualty count is far greater than it would seem.
The answer to how to stop the epidemic of ministry failures due to sin is elusive and many-sided. There are perhaps many different reasons for such incidents, but a common thread through many of them has to do with the condition of one’s relationship with the Lord. To the degree the servant leans upon the Lord, the Lord imparts grace to withstand the onslaughts of the evil one. The one in close fellowship with the Lord will not allow himself to be placed in certain situations or to become physically, emotionally, or spiritually tired. The one who serves in all humility will not become spiritually arrogant and feel himself invulnerable to satanic attack.
A final thought stemming from what happened to Samson is this. Although some sins are not life and ministry destroying, some are. Not only have far too many of god’s servants fallen in sin; some also have fallen to the point of not being useful to the Lord as before. Perhaps this is due to loss of reputation or respect among those they serve, or maybe it is simply that the temporal effects of one’s sins prohibit further ministry opportunities.
God’s mercy is both deep and wide, and His forgiveness comes to those who confess and repent; yet that glad truth may not change the fact that the soiled servant has lost his saltiness. He can no longer be used to cause people to thirst for the God who has living water for all who hunger and thirst after righteousness.