Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Here is a note of encouragement to our church family that I emailed out earlier this morning.

As I was meditating and praying through 2 Corinthians this morning, I wanted to pass along some thoughts that gripped me.  Here is my heart — and the shepherds’ hearts — as we seek to care for you and labor among you, with you, and for you — and ultimately, for the praise of our God.

2 Corinthians 1:24 — “Not that we lord it over your faith, but we are workers with you for your joy; for in your faith you are standing firm.

In thinking about and applying this verse to our ministry context, I want to give you 4 brief motivations that we have as your elders.  By God’s Grace, we as shepherd elders seek to: 

Paul said that he is NOT lording it over the faith of the Corinthians.  As he teaches and preaches and labors for them and among them, He reminds them that GOD is the one who establishes the believers in Christ. And God has sealed His people and given them the Spirit of God as a pledge.  Paul said that he came to Corinth again to serve them, not to lord his apostolic authority over them. He did not come to roll his authoritarian credentials over them but he came to serve them, to help them, to minister to them, and to aid them in their growth.  Paul had his leadership position and his apostolic authority from God — not self determined by his own whims. Similarly, it is our desire to serve you, not to lord any sort of authority over you.  As your shepherds, we must lead and we must oversee and God has appointed us to make decisions to protect the flock, to uphold biblical truth, and to maintain purity in the Church. But our desire is to serve you, never to lord authority over God’s saints. 

Paul told the saints that he is a worker with them for their joy.  Paul expresses his heartfelt desire to be a diligent and driven worker in gospel advancement for their good.  That is the heart of a shepherd.  Our hearts are to work hard together with you for your good and for your welfare. First Timothy 3.1 says that if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work that he desires to do! Yes, it is work. It is hard. But nothing brings more joy and more thrill and more excitement than to serve the Lord and serve His people by working hard for God’s glory and for the good and well-being of the saints. And that well-being is for the people of God to grow in Christlikeness so as to walk in holiness, bask in the fear of God, and live with peace and joy on this pilgrimage toward our heavenly home. 

Paul said that he is a worker for their joy. In an amazing clarification, Paul affirms that he is not in leadership for power, or for honors, or for recognition. Rather, he does what he does for the enhancement and increase of their joy in the Lord. As the believers suffer, God called Paul to help them in their perseverance through difficulties for their joy.  As God brought blessings and favorable circumstances into their lives, Paul endeavored to help them process and think through such occasions in a way that would glorify God and maintain a God-Centered joyfulness.  So also with us as your shepherds, we are committed to working hard, together with you, for your joy in the Lord.  As Paul said to the Philippians: “Rejoice in the LORD.” Don’t rejoice in the things that you can tangibly see here and in the passing pleasures of this realm. But we resolve to honor God and aid you in rejoicing in the unshakeable truth and rock-solid beauty of God’s character, Christ’s salvation, and the Spirit’s power. 

Paul poured out his heart by telling the believers that he found great joy and comfort in knowing that they are standing firm in their faith.  In the body of Truth, in systematic theology, that he had taught them, they are now standing firm and resting upon it.  This brings great joy to a shepherd to know that saints are standing upon, grounded in, and unmoved in their confidence in “the faith”.  Our commitment, as shepherds of CFBC, is to teach the “full counsel of God” so that you will grow deeper in precise systematic theology, so that your worship of the Triune God will be transcendent, captivating, and biblical. And we want you to stand firm on the Lord and on the Truth (=“the Faith”) in the ever-so-changing days in which we live. We want you to stand strong, to stand firm, to stand courageous, to stand boldly, to stand vocally, and to stand worshipfully on the Lord.  The LORD is my rock and my salvation, of whom shall I be afraid?  Stand firm knowing that it is on Christ the solid Rock that you stand. All other ground is sinking sand!

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