Going home last Thursday night I passed through a family feud. Bricks were lying on the street, windows were smashed, a young lad was beating another, perhaps it was a girl, there were shouts, screams, swearing, anger. The police showed up, the street was blocked off, neighbours drifted back indoors. I remembered Proverbs 26:17 “Like one who seizes a dog by the ears is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own” and so did not get involved. Someone should tell the feuding families about Christ, but who?
Yesterday I preached 1 Peter 3:13-4:6 on the Christian’s attitude to suffering for doing good to others and preaching Christ. As I preached, it dawned on me that I must lead the way, as a minister. Others will not be willing to suffer for the cause of Christ unless I am.
Then I read Thomas Watson this morning and, as is often the case, God has reinforced my lesson:
The reasons why the storm of persecution has chiefly fallen upon the ministers are:
1 They have their corruptions as well as others, and lest they should be lifted up ‘through the abundance of revelation’, God lets loose some ‘messenger of Satan’ to vex and persecute them…
2 The ministers are Christ’s ensign-bearers to carry his colours. They are the captains of the Lord’s host, therefore they are the most shot at. …The minister’s work is to preach against men’s sins which are as dear to them as their right eye, and they cannot endure this. …This causes an uproar.
3 From the malice of Satan. The ministers of Christ come to destroy his kingdom, therefore the old serpent will spit all his venom at them. If we tread upon the devil’s head, he will bite us by the heel…
(i) It shows us what a work the ministry is; though full of dignity, yet full of danger. The persecution of the tongue is the most gentle persecution can be expected. It is not possible (says Luther) to be a faithful preacher and not to meet with trials and oppositions.
(ii) It shows the corruption of men’s nature since the fall. They are their own enemies. They persecute those who come to do them most good. What is the work of the ministry but to save men’s souls? to pull them as ‘brands out of the fire’. Yet they are angry at this…
(iii) If the fury of the world be against the ministers, then you that fear God had need pray much for them. ‘Pray for us, that the Word of the Lord may have free course, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men.’ (2 Thessalonians 3: 1, 2). People should pray for their ministers that God would give them the ‘wisdom of the serpent’, that they may not betray themselves to danger by indiscretion; and the boldness of the lion, that they may not betray the truth by fear.
Please make the last point your prayer for me, for wisdom and boldness, not fear of the inner city.