Conversion and baptism may change the direction of the life current, but only by the continued process of sanctification can the soul gain in power and strength. Inherited adverse currents come from poor heredity. Cultivated adverse currents come from poor habit patterns.
Faithfulness after repentance may make Christians accepted with the Lord, but their emotions may require much spiritual guidance. As Jesus, the Good Shepherd, could say, "I . . . know my sheep" (John 10:14), so the pastor must ever seek to know his church members. True pastoral shepherding, with its knowledge of the flock's individual needs and remedies, builds a healthy church and a strong work. In reminding Timothy of this truth, Paul tried to inspire him to know personally his co-workers and members too. He called his attention to a number of their individual names: Phygellus, Hermogenes, Onesiphorus, Hymenaeus, and Philetus, et cetera (2 Tim. 1:15, 16; 2:17); Demas, Luke, Mark, Tychicus, Alexander, Prisca, Aquila, Onesiphorus, Erastus, Trophimus, Eubulus, Pudens, Linus, and Claudia (2 Tim. 4:10-21). In Paul's letter to the Romans there are some thirty more names given (Rom. 16:1-27).
Why has God preserved these names in the Sacred Word? One reason is that the reading of these names with Paul's comment on them reveals many little hints that are of the utmost importance in understanding Paul's attitude toward his co-workers, the church members, and the work as a whole. Paul gives to everyone his own special individual by name. Although economizing with cloak, books, and parchments (2 Tim. 4:13), which he asks Timothy to bring with him, he does not economize with his parchment at hand on which he is then dictating the many names. Every on seems to him important, and to everyone he adds his affectionate remark. How expressively these names reveal Paul's affection toward his co-workers and church members. The true minister who watches the spiritual health of his church members as a Christian doctor does his patients in a hospital will manifest such genuine affection in their behalf.
Is it true that "the price of redeeming a soul is too expensive" for many of us, as the French translation renders Psalm 49:8? Paradoxically, are we trying to be proud of the gospel on the one hand, and on the other ashamed of the Christlike spiritual affection it engenders for one's fellow men?
Jesus loved all men even unto the end (John 13:1). He instituted the Lord's Supper as a fellowship of love between the Saviour and the saved. Jesus was never ashamed of His pure feelings of affection. The apostles appeared ashamed of the affections of the mothers who had brought their little children to Jesus that He should put His hands on them in blessing (Matt. 19:13). It is this personal touch that is needed—the touching of the head of a child, the warm handshake, the friendly attitude, the warm look in the eyes. The ointment and perfume of loving Christian lives are greatly needed today, for "by not establishing the sweetness of friendship" (Prov. 27:9), we may be quenching a longing soul or breaking a bruised reed (Isa. 42:3). By not developing the natural affections of pure Christian friendship, we may sell a soul into the world of unnatural and sinful affection.
How different were Jesus' teachings and attitudes toward men from those of the Pharisees! Their external emphasis breeds the desire that things and men appear beautiful outwardly.
They were most anxious to keep things going smoothly without the personal application of the weightier matters of the law. Mercy and faith were foreign to their dispositions. What could such leaders expect but criticism from even good church members? We must beware lest we follow their poor leadership. As the days of trial deepen how important it is that pastors know their members that in time of their personal need they may know how to minister to them.
Tactful Dealing With Divergent Elements
In 1 Timothy 5:22, Paul admonished the believers to lay hands suddenly on no man. It is never right to drop a member of the church council only because he is not a yes man. It is better to have such members participate in church duties than to leave them to their criticism. If they are already endangered by their own ideas, separation from the church and its activities may cause them to be lost altogether. An expression of confidence in their sincerity and devotion may regain them. By listening to their arguments the pastor may find the key to their hearts. To leave them altogether alone will not change them, but it may embitter them. They should not be allowed to become rusty in their Christian activities. Brotherly love softens hearts.
Loves Personal Touch
In his Gospel, Luke records many essential details about the personal touch of Christ's ministry of love. He tells how before Peter's denial Jesus prayed for him. Luke reports that it was Jesus Himself who called Zacchaeus down from his sycamore tree and told him, "For today I must abide at thy house" (Luke 19:5). This small man must have been despised by his compatriots, both for his being a publican and for his smallness of size and stature. We would say today, that Zacchaeus no doubt had an inferiority complex, not daring to bring himself to the forefront. Jesus understood his attitude and hidden activity. His pastoral psychology proved of great value in the life-changing effect of this experience on the soul of this short man.
Magnify Your Office
The modern world awaits the demonstration of the Spirit of Jesus in the lives of His followers. Let us magnify His Christian principles today! Let the pastor magnify his ministerial office in a devoted service of love (Rom. 11:13). In such a time as this every worker must study to show himself "approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). Pastors, as spiritual physicians, are needed to apply the remedies of heaven to the present sicknesses in the church (1 Cor. 11:30). In His name and by His power they are to strengthen the weaknesses in these families that remain barren and unfruitful in the knowledge of Christ and His righteousness.
Pastors, magnify your office! Enlarge your heart. Sharpen your intellect! Deepen your convictions! Increase your loving! Magnify—magnify your office! God's remnant people are to draw together in Christian love and fellowship.
They are to belittle nobody. They are not to "imagine evil" in their hearts against their neighbors (Zech. 7:10). They are to throw off all concepts of idolatry, self-righteousness, and strife and discord. They are not to rejoice in the iniquity of anyone. In all these holy achievements the pastor is the key individual, the shepherd-physician. By his own example he can demonstrate that "love never faileth" (1 Cor. 13:8, R.V.), that "charity . . . thinketh no evil," but "beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things" (1 Cor. 13:4, 5, 7). Every true pastor-physician by precept and example will seek to lead his congregation to magnify love for the brotherhood and mutual fellowship with Christ.
We who are pastors and physicians should unceasingly pray that God will make us not only just and holy but kind and gracious too.
There is no true church fellowship possible without the spirit of reciprocal bearing of griefs and carrying of sorrows (Isa. 53:4). Selfish consideration and strife even for righteousness' sake may mislead souls and misuse truth. Human beings are more than mere tools or instruments that may be laid aside or discarded at will. Although a worker with the members of the flock cannot reach the stature of Jesus, nonetheless he seeks the mind of Christ and denies himself, even to the degree of making himself of no reputation (Phil. 2:5-7), that he might "bear" the burdens of his flock and so "fulfil the law of Christ" (Gal. 6:2).
Pharisee-impaired Christianity of lawyer-theologians or dogrnaticians will not solve the heart problems of today. Modern man's ceaseless quest to psychologists, educators, physicians, and psychotherapists constitutes a challenge to the pastor-physicians of the Adventist Church.
No men on earth have been so blessed with the principles of mental, physical, and spiritual healing. Let us prayerfully restudy these life-giving remedies and so minister that the balm of Gilead may restore the health of God's people, physically, mentally, and spiritually.