"...a pastor who does not seek to do his work with joy does not care for his flock." Desiring God John Piper
"Then the multitude rose up together against them; and the magistrates tore off their clothes and commanded them to be beaten with rods. And when they had laid many stripes on them, they threw them into prison, commanding the jailer to keep them securely." Acts 16:22, 23
In the book of Acts we study the beginnings of the Church, and I feel a weariness to it all. Paul worked day and night. When he wasn't tent making he was teaching and training. In any spare moments after that he was writing. In between that he was deserted, beaten, hated by various individuals and groups.
When I think of emulating Paul I am sadly not attracted to his way of life. I sigh, feel tension in my neck, and start thinking about a change of occupation. Every time Paul made converts, saw progress for the gospel, there was negative angry protests right along side of it.... and I'm supposed to want this?
But he had a joy in his relationship to our Lord that so surpassed it all. It must be similar to Hudson Taylor's (19th century missionary to China) comment: "I never made a sacrifice. Unspeakable joy all day long and everyday, was my happy experience. God, even my God, was a living bright reality, and all I had to do was joyful service."
Paul would concur as he speaks for the last time to the Ephesus church in Acts 20:23, 24. "...the Holy Spirit testifies in every city, saying that chains and tribulations await me. But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy...". There it is again. That word....joy.
Lord, I am seeking to do my work with joy...the kind of joy I see in Paul. I want serving You to be my pleasure. Help me to find my place in the church and the world just like You directed Paul. Acts 23:11 "Be of good cheer, Paul; for as you have testified for Me in Jerusalem, so you must also bear witness at Rome."
Are you finding joy in your life because of Jesus?