It seems that every so often I hear Christians (including myself) talk about God empowering us for a task of some sort. Recently, I got to be thinking a little more about what exactly that means…
For something that we hear a lot about, I think it’s a difficult concept to grasp. Sometimes I wonder inwardly if there is indeed a Biblical truth to back up some of these “christian sayings” that we hear so many times. Not to say I’m a spiritual skeptic, but there’s a lot of “evangelicalisms” out there that make me nauseous. So I am careful to use the appropriate language to describe the work of Christ in me and in Scripture. I don’t want my own experiential lens to inappropriately/inaccurately color my vocabulary.
Well this week, my mother, whom many of you might have met, and whom serves as a great instrument of Christ’s strength in my life, sent me something that was simply meant as an encouragement to her son, but I thought would perhaps serve as an encouragement to others as well. It Biblically backs up the thought I mentioned above. Here’s an adaptation of her email to me:
We need to remember that in our work, the Lord Jesus is with us and gives us power to complete the tasks He’s given us (perhaps especially so in the way of spreading the gospel). In Matthew 28:18-20 we see this principle worked out in the words of our Lord.
Verse 18 begins with this, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.”
Jeremiah Burroughs comments, “A gracious heart sees the Word of the Lord backed with an infinite power.“
This is the key thought – we must have faith that His Word will not return void, and that the work we’re doing now will not be for nothing, for it is “backed with an infinite power.”
Then Christ goes on to say, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”
Burroughs then says…”What follows? ‘Go therefore and preach!’ It is as if He should say, ‘Know that all the power in heaven and earth that is given to Me shall go along with you while you are [teaching] My Word, to make good that Word of mine that you [teach].'”
Wayne Grudem adds, “The task of fulfilling the Great Commission includes… not only evangelism but also teaching. And the task of teaching all that Jesus commanded us is, in a broad sense the task of teaching what the whole Bible says to us today.”
My mom finished her email with an encouraging word, “YOU are participating in the Great Commission and you didn’t even have to have any shots or visas!!”
Sometimes its not easy to see the value in our work, and we forget who it is that’s commissioned the work in the first place – the Lord God Almighty! We also forget that because He’s commissioned the work, He’s necessarily going to ensure that there is sufficient power to see it accomplished – even if He uses weak vessels to accomplish this work (2 Cor. 12:9).
The great preacher, Martyn Lloyd Jones, wrote something of this in his book ‘Spiritual Depression’, this is what he said:
Here we are, weary in well-doing, but what can we do? The first thing must be self-examination … Sit down and say to yourself, ‘Well, now, why am I weary?’ …
There are many possible answers to the question. You may be in that condition simply because you are working too hard physically. You can be tired in the work and not tired of the work … If you go on working too hard or under strain you are bound to suffer. And of course if that is the cause of the trouble the remedy you need is medical treatment … You remember that when Elijah had that attack of spiritual depression after his heroic effort on Mount Carmel, he sat down under a juniper tree and felt sorry for himself. But the real thing he needed was sleep and food; and God gave him both! He gave him food and rest before He gave him spiritual help.
But … Something else may be the cause of the trouble, and very frequently it is that we may have been living the Christian life, or doing Christian work, by means of carnal energy. We may have been doing it all in our own strength instead of working in the power of the Spirit … We may have been trying to do God’s work ourselves; and of course if we try to do that there will be only one result, it will ultimately crush us because it is such high work. And so we must examine ourselves and see if there is something wrong with the way in which we are doing this work. It is possible for a man to preach with carnal energy, and if he does he will soon be suffering from this spiritual exhaustion and depression.
I hope that each of you who are engaging in Christ’s work of teaching your children, other adults, or preaching the gospel at work and to family, realize the greatness of the commission, and the power Christ promises to those who labor with Him to fulfill it. We need to remember that there is a mighty power in the Word and in the Spirit. We (especially me) would do well to call upon Him and rely on His help and His power – for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.