"... besides the other things that come upon me daily: my deep concern for all the churches." (2 Cor. 11:28, NKJV)
There was a characteristic of Paul's personality (not Holy Spirit given), that caused him to care deeply for God's work. Witness his zeal for the laws of God before he was converted. This same care was evident with all the congregations he helped to establish through the years of his work for the Lord.
It is hard to imagine the stress he endured dealing with all the persecutions he encountered, let alone the added stress of negative news brought to him about his dear brethren in those fledgling congregations. Too, his blood was frequently brought to the surface of his body by the floggings which he received for the testimony of Christ. The writer of the book of Hebrews said that those to whom he was writing had not yet "... resisted unto blood, striving against sin." (Heb. 12:4). The same could be said of us today, but, on the other hand, we, like Paul, have had the stress of the "concern for all the churches" laid upon us. I suppose, thus it shall ever be.
There are many elders, deacons, preachers, and concerned brethren who have lain awake at night worrying and fretting over news of all kinds of problems that are facing congregations whom they love and about whom they care. Some of these problems are useless and senseless. Many are the tears that have been shed by concerned brethren as they ponder the fate of congregations suffering the negative effects of the actions of others that affect the peace and serenity of God's people. God, through His Word, cautions us to "Try the spirits ... because many false prophets have gone out into the world." (1 John 4:1) It seems that the only course remaining is to exercise church discipline on those who would trouble the Lord's church. I have been told by many loving and caring brethren that the administration of discipline in the church should be the final act of love to the offending brother.
So, what are we to do? Should we continue to fret and worry? No! "Fret not thyself because of evildoers ..." (Psalms 37:1-3). Stay the course! "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." (1 Cor. 16:13).
The Bible records instances when God had to strengthen and encourage His men in the field to do His work in spite of strong opposition. He strengthened Moses when Moses listed his objections to going back into Egypt to face Pharaoh. He even assured Moses that He would go with him into Egypt. (Exodus 3:10). Also, after Elijah fled from Jezebel's threats, Jehovah appeared to him and asked Elijah, "What are you doing here?" (1 Kings 19:9). Elijah's reply did not satisfy God. God told him, "Yet I have left Me seven thousand in Israel all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal" (19:18). Elijah learned that he was not alone. Too, Daniel, after he had seen terrible visions that troubled him deeply, said, "I Daniel was grieved in my spirit in the midst of my body, and the visions of my head troubled me." (Dan. 7:15). God sent His messenger to assure Daniel that His judgment would be meted out against all of His enemies, thus giving assurance to Daniel. God would prevail!
Today, God gives us His assurance that evildoers will not prevail against His church. Jesus said, "... the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:18). Indeed, it is sad to see congregations torn up over various (often nonsensical) issues. We are downcast because brethren become divided. We are crestfallen when local congregations divide and sometimes cease to exist. However, be of good courage. The church of our Lord has God's assurance of victory. Stand fast! Stay the course! Contend for the faith earnestly! We shall overcome through the blood of the Lamb! -5636 Cherrywood Dr., Lorain, OH 44053.
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