I never write one of these messages (or preach a sermon) without feeling a palpable sense of unworthiness to do so. In fact, my first thought in choosing a subject nearly always involves the thought, “Well, I’ll just write about the Lord’s amazing faithfulness, in contrast to my own too frequent lack thereof.” “If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful” (II Peter 2:13).
I suppose if any of us ever do feel worthy to bear the name of the Lord Jesus Christ according to our own faithfulness, we will have disqualified ourselves from serious consideration to serve as the Lord’s messengers. Indeed, the Apostle Paul who declared that God “counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry” also confessed, “God called me by His grace,” and “We preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord” (I Timothy 1:12; Galatians 1;15; II Corinthians 4:5).
I recall many years ago hearing a preacher confidently boast, “You can’t buy me! I will not compromise!” In stark contrast, Paul, long into his service as the Lord’s apostle, acknowledged the possibility that he could be deterred from finishing his course.
“I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection, lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:27).
As you might imagine, the boasting preacher compromised, becoming one whose own name and reputation seemed as important as the One he purported to represent. Paul, conversely, finished his course because he emphasized his Lord’s uncompromising character, nature, and way rather than the delusion that he could not fall (II Timothy 4:7).
Never are our detours from the path of righteousness inevitable or excusable. The Lord Jesus suffered and died for such unfaithfulness, smitten by both God and man. Paul’s concern about being disqualified from ministry moreover reveals that we can disqualify ourselves from representing the Lord if unbelief and disobedience are allowed to dominate our lives. Nevertheless, our Heavenly Father mercifully teaches us a necessary humility as we more and more discover the contrast between His perfect faithfulness and our far from perfect walk with Him. I know of no more qualifying realization than this remembrance that the grace that saves us is also the grace that grants us the completely undeserved privilege to “preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord.”
“Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory, for Thy mercy, and for Thy truth's sake.” (Psalm 115:1)