The Pastor’s Life Wrapped Up with His People’s Steadfastness – No 1758
C H Spurgeon
MINISTERS who are really sent of God greatly rejoice in the spiritual prosperity of their people. If they see God’s Word prosper, they prosper. If the Church of God is blessed, they are blessed. Their life is wrapped up in the spiritual life of their people. Never is the servant of God so full of delight as when he sees that the Holy Spirit is visiting his hearers, making them to know the Lord, and confirming them in that heavenly knowledge. On the other hand, if God does not bless the word of His servants, it is like death to them! To be preaching and to have no blessing makes them heavy of heart—the chariot wheels are taken off and they drag heavily along—they seem to have no power nor liberty. They get depressed and they go back to their Master with this complaint, “Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”
He revives and cheers them—and they come back to their service—but if they do not see a manifest blessing resting upon the people, they cry and sigh and are like dying men. If the Lord willed to do so, He might have made robots to preach and these would only need to be wound up and allowed to run down again! They would have known no feelings of joy or of sorrow and would have been invulnerable to the arrows of grief. We have heard of the Iron Duke. Iron preach ers would have been enduring instruments and would never have been laid aside by mental depression. But the sympathy of the preacher is God’s great instrument for blessing the hearer! If you read a sermon in a book it is good, but if you hear it preached fresh from the man’s heart, it is far more effective. There is a living fellow-feeling about it, and that is the power which God has, in all ages, been pleased to use—the power of a spirit which He has made sensitive with affection—so sensitive that it rises to joy when its affectionate purpose is accomplished and sinks to depths of grief when that purpose fails.
This, I take it, is what the Apostle means when he says, “Now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.” The people can make the pastor happy beyond expression by their being rich in Grace and happy in Christ! But they can make him miserable beyond all description if they are either unstable or insincere. Dearly Beloved, I have often rejoiced in God as I have seen the work of the Spirit among you. It is no small joy that for many years we have never been without an increase to the Church. With few exceptions we have never gathered at our monthly communions without receiving a considerable number into our membership.
During these years some have turned back, to our great sorrow, and some have flagged, to our solemn grief. But others have persistently carried on the work of God and have developed gifts and graces which have made them qualified for larger spheres. At this day those at home come behind in no gifts and those abroad do not forget the hallowed training of Zion. In every part of the earth some are engaged in holy service who have gone out from this Church. For all this, our heart must be grateful. But these are evil times. These are times, the like of which I have not seen before, in which the foundations are removed and “what shall the righteous do?” The winds are out. The tacklings are loosed. The mariners reel to and fro! Everything seems to be drifting. Men know not where they are!
Half the professing Christians of the present day do not know their heads from their heels and the half that do know seem inclined to take to their heels and run rather than stand steadfast in the faith and wait till evil days are over! It is time that we spoke to you concerning steadfastness—that you be not like idle boys that leap hedges and ditches after every nest that silly birds may choose to make—but that you keep to the King’s Highway of holiness and truth and hold fast to the doctrines and the practices which are taught us in the Word of God. I say to you by this discourse, “Now we live, if you stand fast in the Lord.”