Monday, March 5, 2007

Yesterday I preached twice at church. It was a long day and a tiring day. Paul says it this way:

1 Timothy 4:10-11 10 For it is for this we labor and strive, because we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers. 11 Prescribe and teach these things.

When Paul says that we labor, he uses the Greek word kopiao which means "to toil, to labor; to toil with wearisome effort. In secular writings of the first century AD it meant "to be utterly exhausted."

Then he uses a second word, strive, which comes from the Greek word agonizomai - from which we get our English "agonize." It is an athletic term which was used in "contending for a prize;" "in training with such struggle to earn the reward." It also means: "to endeavor with strenuous zeal" and "to contend."

This is what Paul is saying. When it comes to the Gospel message. I am laboring and I am striving - Literally "agonizing" for the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I was blessed to experience a little bit of that agony last night. I was driving home from church and thinking about George Whitefield - one of my heroes of old - who used to preach 3 times a day. And at that, it was every day of the week!

Who am I to say that I am tired? However, for me, to labor and to strive in the high calling of proclaiming the "word of the Cross" (1 Cor 1:18), is pure and utter joy. I pray that the Lord would give me the opportunity to do this for the rest of my life. To be an Ezra is my goal:

Ezra 7:10 10 For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the LORD, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.

Notice the three aspects to Ezra's ministry (which is a great model for every preacher):

First, he was a man who studied God's word.
Second, he was a man who practiced God's word. He had to make absolutely certain that the Word that he was prescribing to others to live out was a truth that he was already working on himself.
Third, he was a man who was zealous to teach God's word.

May we be preachers who agonize in the pulpit. Labor hard. Run hard. Study hard. Preach hard.

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