The Preaching Gift Must Be Exercised With Love, Power and Self Control

2 TimFor the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love and self-discipline.’ (2 Timothy 1:7)

Make no mistake: we rely entirely on the Holy Spirit. On the one hand, we know that without the Spirit of God we cannot be saved. On the other, we realise that without the Spirit of God we cannot be used. God gave us the Spirit, and that the Spirit, in turn, has granted the preacher a triad of graces.

First, the Spirit has firstly blessed us with the grace of power. This is outstandingly good news. For few things are more needed in ministry than power.  Substantial energy  – more than most parishioners realise – is needed for a man to pray and preach and pastor faithfully. Regular ministry is rigorous. It quickly depletes even a Samson’s strength. To aim, as he does, at seeing sinners repent and saints grow, the preacher shoots for the highest goals possible.  But in who’s strength does he do so? The preacher aims for the moon with a pee-shooter if he ministers with the strength of his arm alone. We must therefore hear the wise words of Hudson Taylor: “God uses men who are weak and feeble enough to lean on him.”

In the next place, the Spirit blesses the preacher with the grace of love.  Ours is not just a ministry of labour; it is a labour of love. The fruitful minister is to firstly love God, and then (in no particular order) he must love the Word, the church, the lost, the prayer-hour, the weak, the dying, the prodigal, the elder brother, the wife and family God has given him. The demands on a pastor’s love are legion. The pastor’s well will quickly run dry unless he draws his water from the well of the Holy Spirit. In practical terms, our daily prayer must Philippians 1:9-11: that our love will increase more and more – along with discernment – producing the fruit of a righteous life to the glory of God.

Finally, Paul reminds the preacher that we are blessed with the grace of self-control. Self-control means to be sober-minded, exercising good, sensible judgement in all areas of life. One of the greatest challenges in the pressures of pastoral ministry is simply “keeping one’s head.” When others are losing the plot, the pastor must still control  his mind, will and tongue.  This, needless to say, is easier said than done! But here again we rely upon the help of the Spirit.  It is through the Spirit God gave us that the we bear the fruit of self control. Contrary to the ideas of some, the Spirit-filled minister will not be fanatical, erratic and unstable. When the storm rages around him, he is a picture of calm and control.

Are you encouraged yet? This trio of graces are available to us through the Spirit!

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