A minister is not his own; he belongs to the Lord, and as a servant of God, he should allow the Spirit of God to lead him.
Let us consider the experience of Samson as recorded in Judges. The angel appeared to the parents of Samson and said, "He shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines." Judges 13:5.
God instructed the parents how to raise the child that was to become the deliverer of His people. In the eighth verse we read that Manoah said, "O my Lord, let the man of God which thou didst send come again unto us, and teach us what we shall do unto the child that shall be born."
The parents received full instruction for training their child, and they were also told the importance of his diet. They were well aware of their son's high calling. In the twenty-fourth verse of Judges 13 we read, "And the child grew, and the Lord blessed him." As a child Samson was in the right relationship with God. He grew with the blessing of God upon him.
But Samson failed to recognize the sacredness of the work to which he was called. He depended upon his own strength to accomplish it. God had a definite program for Samson, but Samson chose his own course.
Our Call Similar
The ministry of the Seventh-day Advent- ist denomination today has a similar call. We too are to deliver a people out of the bondage of sin and prepare them for that better land that Jesus has promised His children. We ought to think of our work as a work of deliverance. Isaiah speaks of the Lord's servants as: "The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in." Isa. 58:12. We can never deliver anybody if we ourselves are still in bondage. We must be free from sin ourselves.
The record says of Samson in Judges 13:25, "And the Spirit of the Lord began to move him at times in the camp of Dan between Zorah and Eshtaol." There were times when Samson was moved by the Spirit of the Lord. But there were evidently other times when he did not yield himself fully to the movings of God's Spirit.
As ministers we are in danger of coming to rely upon our profession rather than upon the power of the living God. Sometimes men seem to think that if they can just hold on until they are ordained, the testing time is over. They then feel they are in the ministry to stay. In fact, I have met some young men who expressed it in just so many words. We are not in this work as ministers simply to occupy a position. Our work is more than a position it is to represent Christ to a lost world.
In Judges 14:1 we read, "And Samson went down to Timnath, and saw a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines." He went right over to the people that were oppressing the people of God, mingled with them, and was influenced by their ungodly ways. How could he be a strong leader and deliver God's people when he joined their enemies? I believe that until this time Samson still looked forward to the work that he was to do, the delivering of Israel. But he tried to accomplish this task in his own strength and with his own methods.
Brethren, methods are good; right methods are necessary; but it takes more than methods. "Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts." Zech. 4:6. It is the Spirit of God that our people need. It is that Spirit that you and I need to bring the people nearer to the Lord and help them to become soul winners. God is not pleased with meager results. He is waiting for us, and when we get ready He will give us success.
We notice in Judges 15:14: "The Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands." God manifested His power even though Samson had not carried out all His plan. The Lord did not leave Samson until he placed himself entirely in the hands of the Philistines. It was then that the Spirit of God left him, for we read in Judges 16:20, "And he wist not that the Lord was departed from him."
What a sad ending for a man who was to deliver the people of God from their enemies! He had served as a judge of God's people for twenty years, but through com promise with the world he lost his vision and the Spirit of God, by which alone he could accomplish the task to which he was called. Though he repented, and was used by the Spirit even in his death to accomplish God's purpose, how much better it would have been had his life been constantly yielded to the control of God's Spirit!
Revival and Reformation
As ministers of the Lord Jesus we too have a holy work to perform. We are living in the time when the final work of revival and reformation is to be accomplished in the whole world. God can use only consecrated instruments in this work.
The servant of the Lord sent this message to the General Conference in 1913:
"Often in the night season I am bidden to urge our brethren in responsible positions to make ear nest effort to follow on to know the Lord more perfectly. When our workers realize as they should the importance of the times in which we live, there will be seen a determined purpose to be on the Lord's side, and they will become in truth laborers together with God. When they consecrate heart and soul to the service of God, they will find that an experience deeper than any they have yet obtained is essential if they would triumph over all sin.
"It will be well for us to consider what is soon to come upon the earth. This is no time for trifling or self-seeking. If the times in which we are living fail to impress our minds seriously, what can reach us? Do not the Scriptures call for a more pure and holy work than we have yet seen?
"Men of clear understanding are needed now. God calls upon those who are willing to be controlled by the Holy Spirit to, lead out in a work of thorough reformation. I see a crisis before us, and the Lord calls for His laborers to come into line. Every soul should now stand in a position of deeper, truer consecration to God than during the years that have passed." Testimonies to Ministers, p. 514.
May God help us to measure up to our holy calling.