In the last post I began looking at the need for humility in our hearts. Now Paul’s attitude of humility is in stark contrast with the arrogance and high-handed methods of many of the TV preachers I have met and many of the false teachers whose ministries are self-serving. Look at what Paul wrote to the Church in Corinth:
“What I am doing I will continue to do, so that I may eliminate any opportunity for those who want a chance to be regarded as our equals in the things they boast about. For such people are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. So it’s no surprise that his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness, whose end will correspond to their actions. I say again, let no one think that I am a fool. But if you do, then at least accept me as a fool, so that I too may boast a little. What I am saying with this boastful confidence I do not say the way the Lord would. Instead it is, as it were, foolishness.
Since many are boasting according to human standards, I too will boast. For since you are so wise, you put up with fools gladly. For you put up with it if someone makes slaves of you, if someone exploits you, if someone takes advantage of you, if someone behaves arrogantly toward you, if someone strikes you in the face” —II Corinthians 11:12-20
No wonder Paul uses his own example as a standard for other leaders to follow:
“Imitate me, brothers and sisters, and look around to those already following the example we have set. I have warned you before (and now say again through my tears) that we have many enemies—people who reject the cross of our King and Savior” —Philippians 3:17-18
Did you notice that Paul said his instruction and warnings were communicated “with tears.” Recently I posted some teachings on Facebook I entitled, “Judgment and Forgiveness.” I was talking about God’s willingness to judge, punish, and even destroy when necessary.
I explained how one time I wasn’t too far into the teaching about these attributes of our Lord, when a member of our church raised his hand and made a terse comment; he said something like: “. . . I don’t come to Church to hear about God’s judgment; I come to hear about His love. My God is love, and that’s all I am interested in.” That was his last Sunday with us, he never came back.
When I shared a similar teaching on Facebook, I received comments similar to what I received all those years ago, but this time people also sent me “messages,” with similar sentiments. I wasn’t surprised though. What they didn’t understand is that, just like Paul, my teachings are the result of tears and with great humility. I have nothing to gain from the teachings. They are attempts to open our understanding of the God we have sign allegiance with and inspire hearts with a deeper respect and admiration for our Father.
This chapter of Acts gives us better insight into the heart and passion of the Apostle, Paul:
“When they arrived, he said to them, ‘You yourselves know how I lived the whole time I was with you, from the first day I set foot in the province of Asia, serving the Lord with all humility ‘and with tears,’ and with the trials that happened to me because of the plots of the Jews’” —Acts 20:18-19
What do Paul’s tears have to do with his ministry? As a matter of fact, what do tears have to do with anyone’s ministry? Paul’s tears reveal the depth of his love and compassion he had for those in Ephesus. They tell us that when Paul ministered among the Ephesians, he did so because he cared deeply for them, as he did for the saints elsewhere.
There was a time several years ago where I was deeply troubled and alienated from my God and Father. I was cold—dead—inside. At one point I met with my friend/Pastor, Ken Wilson and he had nothing to say . . . he offered to pray with me and while he was praying, he suddenly began to weep deeply, and uncontrollably. He later explained that he had never done that and had no idea what happened, but I clearly saw that it wasn’t Ken crying . . . it was my Father who was crying—the Spirit of God had so impacted Ken that, with a depth of emotion I had never seen before, Ken became a physical display of my Heavenly Father. I was witnessing the depth of my Father’s love and concern for me.
Look at Paul’s heart:
“For out of great distress and anguish of heart I wrote to you with many tears, not to make you sad, but to let you know the love that I have especially for you” —II Corinthians 2:4
“So then, my brothers and sisters, dear friends whom I long to see, my joy and crown, stand in the Lord in this way, my dear friends!” —Philippians 4:1
“For who is our hope or joy or crown to boast of before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not of course you?” —I Thessalonians 2:19
What was happening to me during my time of alienation? Quite simply, I had lost my relationship with my Father. I forgot (believe it or not) that His love came without conditions. I began seeing him as a tough SOB with standards I could never fulfill—so I rebelled. I quit fellowshipping with him—no prayer and no time in His Word. I heard Josh McDowell say, “Rules without relationship result in rebellion.” That describes what I had lost. I lost my relationship with my Father . . . (Thank you Father for pulling me from that pit!)
Through Paul’s letters and here in Acts 20, Paul is most emphatically saying that his teaching was founded on a relationship of love and concern. A true Pastor will weep; groan; rend his heart for those under his care.
Pastors? When was the last time you wept and groaned for the people in your church?
For that matter, parents? When was the last time you wept and groaned and wrestled I prayer and rent you heart for your children?