- Ephesians 6:18-20 (NKJV) …and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.
Those of you who have been a part of our mentoring group for long has heard me talk about my daily “Reflection questions” that I use as a part of my prayer time. Today’s question is:
- Reflection: What has delighted me recently?
The answer to that question is easy today. I am sitting in the breakfast area of a Columbia motel right now with my oldest grandson—David Lee (age 4) and “Nana” upstairs asleep. We are on an overnight trip to the Columbia Zoo in what David Lee is terming a “small vacation.”
We drove down to Columbia last night and I purposely choose a motel with an indoor pool so he could go swimming. He was fearless. I had to be on constant red alert for he would jump into the pool anywhere no matter how deep it was and never mind he can’t swim (and remind me to never go on a “small vacation” again without bringing those little “swimmies” that children wear around their arms!).
Hang with me here—I do have a point besides talking about my grandson 🙂
David Lee’s favorite activity in the pool was for he and I to race to different spots in the pool and his declaration would always be: “The first one there wins!”
Oddly enough he won every time even though I was holding him the entire time.
After I had heard David Lee say, “The first one there wins!” about a dozen times, it occurred to me, that the statement begs the question—“Wins what?”
This is where the logic of the world breaks down. You know the litany…
- Whoever has the most money, nicest car, biggest house, the most “toys”, etc.—wins!
- Whoever gets to be the manager, Vice president, President, CEO or whatever wins!
- Whoever wins the game, division, league championship and world championship wins!
I recently had a former Navy SEAL speak at my church and he spoke of the day he became a Navy SEAL. He described it as the best day of his life and also the worse day of his life. After all the sacrifice and exertion it was a banner day for him; but he went on to describe how it all felt so empty and hollow. How could that be? He’d reached the top of the mountain; he had won! But he had failed to answer the question: “Won what?”
We preachers and teachers can fall into the same trap. You know the routine:
- The preacher with the largest church wins!
- The teacher with the largest class wins!
- The preacher/teacher that has the most followers wins!
My dear fellow preachers and teachers remember what it is you are trying to win. Paul sums it up well in today’s verse. He is writing “in chains” (in prison) and he is asking that his fellow Christians back in Ephesus pray for him. Pray for what? Pray that he’d get out of jail? Pray that his ministry attendance and budget would increase? Pray that he’d get a good promotion? No! He begged of them that they pray…“that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak.”
Remember, we are called to preach the gospel: to preach it under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, to preach it boldly and accurately (“as I ought to speak”). We are to do this whether we’re considered the champion of preachers or whether we’re an ambassador in chains. We are to do this until Jesus is finished with us and calls us home to Him and we hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant! Enter into the joys of your Lord!” Now that is what a win looks like.
The moment you get your eyes off that goal you start preaching and teaching for the wrong reasons and you start getting the wrong results. By all means preach and teach to win (1 Cor. 9:24-25); but make sure you know what a win looks like.
Note: I dedicate this blog to David Carico—a faithful friend, brother-in-Christ, and prayer partner, to whom I have preached to for many years. He reminded me of this verse this week. Thanks David for enduring all the sermons for the last 18 years!
- Where’s Your Pulpit (roarofaradical.wordpress.com)