I'm preaching this morning from Matthew's Gospel. Below is a brief summary:
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest. And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (Matt 9:35-10:1)
I'm told hundreds of pastors leave the ministry field every year due to what we dub "burnout." For them, ministry has become more burden than blessing. Hence, they leave. And, if it is true for pastors and other vocational ministers, it remains reasonable to assume the same type of "burnout" holds true for God's army of volunteers who serve in Kingdom business.
Do you ever question if what you do in God's service counts? Do you ever get tired or bored in service to Him? Do you ever feel stale in your commitment to honor Christ in the stewardship He's bestowed upon you? If you are like me, then you would answer similarly--"Yes! These dreary moments descend upon me and drag my soul to the basement of dejection."
Matthew's inspired record speaks a profound word to those of us whose lives at times become like so much stale bread--hard, crumbly, tasteless, and without aroma. Our Lord gives us encouragement today, speaking freshness into our lives serving our Mighty King. In the words our Apostle registers, at least three secrets for staying fresh in God's service exist.
The first secret to staying fresh in serving God is seeing as Jesus sees. Matthew writes: "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd" (v.36). It's true the disciples saw the very same multitudes as did Jesus. What is not true of them as it was of our Lord is, they did not see the multitudes as Jesus saw them. Christ saw the multitudes as in need of assistance; a people dead beat, broken down, and busted. They were "scattered" and in need of divine direction. How do we view the world's crowds? Do we run from them as did the disciples, or run to them as did our Lord? We may only stay fresh in serving the Lord Jesus when we look through the eyes of the Lord Jesus.
The second secret to staying fresh in serving God is sensing what Jesus feels. When our Lord "saw the multitudes" He was neither outraged nor offended. He did not point out to His disciples that the multitudes were idolaters, adulterers, God-haters, hypocrites and whoremongers. As true as that may have been about the multitudes, being the gross sinners they were, when Jesus saw the multitudes who were dead in trespasses and sins, He was "moved with compassion" on them. Saints of God! Are we so stale and tasteless...so spiritually dry and crumbly, that when we see the world we hate them rather than love them? Is the our light no hope for the dark? If the Light of our Lord cannot be seen even in the darkest of the night, perhaps our light is our light and not our Lord's. What do you feel when you see the world? Disgust? Hate? Outrage? Perhaps we need to feel as Jesus feels--"when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them."
The third secret to staying fresh is serving when Jesus calls. Matthew tells us, "And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease” (10:1). Our Lord placed a call upon His disciples. They were called to the task. There existed a harvest but no hands to gather it. Our Lord called. There were sheep without shepherds. Our Lord called. There was labor but no laborers. Our Lord called. When we become stale in our calling, we must remember Who called us to the service. There exists no higher calling than a call unto Him. Know also, that whom He calls, He equips--"he gave them power..." Our calling God is also a giving God. To those whom He calls, He gives. In our bleakest moments, how encouraging to know our God has equipped us for this hour.
With that, I am...