The work of evangelists and pastors is closely linked. They are together in the solemn work of preaching the gospel to "every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people." However, I like to regard evangelists as heroic soldiers of the frontier's in God's army. What are some of the character qualities evangelists should have?
When businessmen meet they converse on falling markets, of price trends, of stocks and shares, and of politics that affect commerce.
Engineers in their gatherings speak of rivers crossed, of dams built, foundations laid, and other subjects related to their profession. Sailors discuss the mystery of the seas, hardships endured, thrilling exploits, and missions successfully undertaken. But when I think of evangelists, who are the warrior class in the army of the Lord, my mind envisions daring deeds, courageous crusades, and chivalrous champions.
David had thirty-seven great warriors. One of them was Uriah the Hittite. Everything indicates that Uriah was a trusted soldier and a man of upright character. He was an alien who had accepted the religion of the true God. At the time the Bible introduces him to us he is fighting for his king. Together with fellow warriors he was besieging Rabbah—the last Ammonite stronghold.
Prosperity May Weaken Defenses
At this time David the king was in Jerusalem at the height of his power, intoxicated by success and prosperity. While he was receiving the plaudits of men, he was thrown off his guard. Imperceptibly the inner defenses of his soul had weakened, until he yielded to a shameful sin.
To escape his guilt he sent for Uriah and attempted to conceal his sin. "And David said to Uriah, Go down to thy house, and wash thy feet" (2 Sam. 11:8).
What did Uriah do? "Uriah slept at the door of the king's house . . and went not down to his house" (verse 9). He was like an old fire horse that rushed out of the stable when he smelled fire! He was eager to get to the battlefield. By his action he "declared his course to be that of a loyal, upright, conscientious soldier who wished to do what was scrupulously right."—The SDA Bible Commentary, on 2 Sam. 11:9.
Unselfish Devotion and Courage Needed
When David questioned Uriah's conduct his answer was, "The ark, and Israel, and Judah, abide in tents; and my lord Joab, and the servants of my lord, are encamped in the open fields; shall I then go into mine house, to eat and to drink, and to lie with my wife? as thou livest, . . . I will not do this thing" (2 Sam. 11:11).
The ark was with the army during the siege of Rabbah. It was a period of emergency. The men were encamped in open fields, suffering the privations of war. They were living a rigorous life, and subsisting on an army diet! Other warriors were on the forefront of the battle, and Uriah did not want comforts and delights of life when his compatriots were suffering and dying.
Many would have accepted David's offer with joy, but not Uriah. This valiant soldier, disregarding personal comfort and safety, was soon fighting in the hottest area of battle, and under the strategy of David he died a hero's death.
Unselfish devotion and a spirit of sacrifice have always been and always will be the first requisite of acceptable service. . . . In all our labors we are to remember that the greatest talents or the most splendid services are acceptable only when self is laid upon the altar, a living, consuming, sacrifice." —Prophets and Kings, p. 65.
Warriors of the front lines! Today God needs men of indomitable courage and unwavering faith to continue the assaults on Godless cities. Sir Ernest Shackleton, before his voyage to the Antarctic, called for men who would work with him. The advertisement was worded—
Men wanted—For a hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.—Sir Ernest Shackleton.
The timidity of some should make us more faithful to our tasks at the frontiers. "To stand in defense of truth and righteousness when the majority forsake us, to fight the battles of the Lord when champions are few—this will be our test. At this time we must gather warmth from the coldness of others, courage from their cowardice, and loyalty from their treason."—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 136.
Sometimes men of the frontiers are afraid. In the battle between the Israelites and the Philistines, the Israelites were paralyzed by fear when Goliath thundered his challenge (1 Sam. 17:10, 11). The frightening cry threw a well-trained battalion into inaction. The finest quality a warrior can have is that of remaining unafraid when others panic and show signs of timidity. This element was seen in the life of David when he was a youth. "Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine" (1 Sam. 17:32). David's confidence, bravery, and strength were in high contrast with the broken morale of his fellow fighters.
Retire Within Your Own Soul
Soldiers of the cross! It is at times good to withdraw from the battle line and think of our present personal degree of courage. This should be done singly rather than by groups. The Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, in his work entitled Meditations, reminded himself, "Nowhere does a man retire with more quiet or freedom than in his own soul."
Front-line workers should retire within the precincts of their own souls and rightly evaluate the present degree of daring for the Lord and their fitness to undertake effectively their assigned tasks.
Uriah made himself available at a crucial hour, and at that very hour his courage was at its peak. The spiritual and cultural bearing of any worker of God must be such that he should be ready to carry out affectively the highest call of duty that he may be called upon to bear.
Many continue to think that their finest hour is in the future. Someone has said, "What you will do in the future is the measure of your failure; what you are doing now is the measure of your success."
Commenting on the bravery of his countrymen in World War II, Sir Winston Churchill said, "If Britain should last a thousand years let it yet be said that this was her finest hour."
Of every hour he lives, a successful warrior will say, "This is my finest hour."
Beethoven Not Toscanini
At times there is danger when a champion begins to think of his own powers as a fighter. Many clever fighters in the battle ranks who wielded weapons with dexterity and adroitness have faded out because they lost their passionate love and ardor for their king.
The name of Jesus always infuses new courage to crestfallen and flagging hearts. The glory of success must always go to Christ. Some years ago the great conductor Toscanini and his orchestra were rehearsing Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. After rehearsal the orchestra was moved to spontaneous ovation. Toscanini endeavored to still the ovation, shouting frantically and waving his arms. It was to no avail. Later when the orchestra renewed the ovation, Toscanini in a broken voice said, "Friends, it is not I, it is Beethoven!" In hours of victory we should always exalt Christ.
Some warriors at times get discouraged over results of their work, particularly when in comparison with that of other workers their achievements are low. Then they hesitate to go to the front because they lack an eloquent tongue and outstanding appearance. According to human understanding, without these factors a worker cannot be a success. This is only theoretical. By theory and conditional experiments it can be proved that a bumblebee cannot fly! This is because of the size and strength of its wings in relation to the weight of its body. But the bumblebee, unaquainted with these scientific truths, goes ahead and flies anyway, and gathers a little honey every day.
A warrior may only be a bumblebee in proportionate build-up and other factors, but he will stay on the assault lines when he has tasted the joys of attack and victory!
There was once a man who was niggardly and despondent. Failure was written all over him. An artist who lived next door to him wanted to help the distressed soul. He painted a picture of his neighbor, not as he actually was but as the artist conceived he might be—head erect, shoulders square, and face shining with purpose. The artist then took it to his neighbor, but said nothing. Both men stood silently gazing at the picture. After a few minutes the neighbor spoke deliberately and with feeling, "Do you see that in me?" "I do," said the artist. "Then I will be that!"
Before us is a picture, not of a better you or me but of Christ—the very image of God. There He stands, calm, courageous, resolute, firm, determined, and gallant. The Warrior of warriors, dauntless in battle. "There is everything in Him to inspire with hope, with faith, and with courage." —Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 100. Let us remember, "He who serves under the bloodstained banner of Emmanuel often has that to do which calls for heroic effort and patient endurance. But the soldier of the cross stands unshrinkingly in the forefront of the battle."—Gospel Workers, p. 16.