Thursday, January 26, 2017
I used to have a hard time making out what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote this in his first letter to the Corinthians: “For when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, since I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16) I understood the part about not boasting about preaching the gospel because it is not our message but Christ’s. The part that troubled me at first was the second half of the verse where Paul said he was compelled to do it and woe to him if he didn’t. To me, to force one of His servants to do this or that went against my perception of God’s character. In time, and later by experience, I came to understand what Paul meant. I understood later that Paul was actually referring to an inner force within him which was compelling him and not God directly.
This reminded me of the Prophet Jeremiah’s dilemma in Old Testament times. As many of you are aware, he went through many hardships being God’s spokesman to a very obstinate and vindictive people. He was preaching a message they did not want to hear. The last straw was the pain and humiliation of being beaten and put in the stocks under orders of the temple priest. After that, Jeremiah said “Enough! I will make mention of His name no more” Then he added: But if I say, “I will not mention His word or speak anymore in His name,” His word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in indeed, I cannot.” (Jer. 20:9) What was this? It was the same inner force that centuries later prompted Paul to write, “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” And it is the same force that drives every genuine servant of God.
Many years ago, when my sons were teenagers, I left the church thinking it would be better for my family if they were in a “better” church environment. I was wrong! It only took me a few weeks to realize my error. I just could not stand the idea of being a “bench warmer” or seeing others doing what I should have been doing. I couldn’t take that anymore so I went back to my home church. By God’s grace, they took me back. What “compelled” me to go back to do what I was called to do? I’m convinced it was the same “inner” force that drove Jeremiah and Paul to keep on doing what they were called to do. The truth is that we need to serve God. It is for our benefit. If we don’t do what He has called us to do, He’ll call someone else. The conclusion to this matter should be obvious. If you have been called of God to a certain task or ministry, you will never be fulfilled until you’re smack dab in the middle of His calling upon your life. You may even search for reasons, just like Jeremiah did, why you can’t or won’t serve God in your calling. And whether your stage is at home, work, church, or any other place, that inner force within you will never stop bothering you; that is, if you have a genuine call of God upon your life. To me, there are few things sadder than unused instruments. They are of no value to anybody unless they are being played. If God has called you, you are an instrument in His hand. Let Him play you.
God’s word for today: (Psalm 40:8) “I desire to do your will, my God; your law is within my heart.”