Paul’s letter to You

Just as Paul encouraged several young pastors in the first century, he’s also encouraging pastors today through his words. What is he saying to you?

Bob Haslam, MDiv, is an editor, mentor, and freelance writer in Hermitage, Tennessee, United States

Editor’s note: The apostle Paul wrote several letters to young pastors in ministry. Even seasoned pastors today need encouragement. This article contains excerpts from Paul’s letters that he might have written to you, a servant and friend of God.

Dear Pastor:

I’ve been thinking a lot about you lately and have been praying for you. I write to bring you encouragement and blessing in Christ that you may live a victorious and fruitful life for Him.

I affirm you. I always thank God for you because of His grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in Him you have been enriched in every way—in all your speaking and knowledge.* We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints. I delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. By faith we stand firm.

I have great confidence in you. In fact, I have boasted about you, but you have not embarrassed me. I am glad I can have confidence in you.

Remember always what God can do. God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, you will abound in every good work.

God is able to do immeasurably more than all you ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within you. He who began a good work in you will carry it on to comple­tion until the day of Jesus Christ.

Let the Holy Spirit play an impor­tant role in your life. You did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Let that Spirit help you in your weakness.

Remember your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God. Since you live by the Spirit, keep in step with the Spirit.

Think about your position in Christ. You are God’s field, God’s building. You are not your own; you were bought at a price. You are a letter from Christ, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. God has made you for this very purpose and has given you the Spirit as a deposit, guarantee­ing what is to come. Therefore, be always confident.

Remember you are a new cre­ation in Christ. For you are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for you to do. You are therefore Christ’s ambas­sador as though God were making His appeal through you.

Seek the gifts and fruit of the Spirit. Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts. Pursue the gifts that build up the church. Do not neglect your gift that was given to you when the body of elders laid their hands on you. And do not forget the fruit of the Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.

Be not ashamed of the gospel. The gospel is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes. Your message and preaching must not be with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom but on God’s power.

 

Experience the power of prayer. In all my prayers, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel. And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ.

In addition, I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being so that Christ may dwell in your heart through faith. I ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience.

Lead a blameless life. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will. Keep your whole spirit, soul, and body blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Remember that in a race all run­ners run, but only one gets the prize. Run in such a way as to get the prize. So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

Stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourself fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. Just as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness, and in your love for us—see that you also excel in the grace of giving.

You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires, to be made new in the attitude of your mind, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness. Be an imitator of God.

Conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

Set your heart on things above. Look to Christ seated at the right hand of God. Clothe yourself with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Be watch­ful and thankful, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. Be joyful always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not put out the Spirit’s fire. Be diligent in these matters; give yourself wholly to them, so that everyone may see your progress.

Pursue righteousness, godli­ness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and correctly handles the Word of truth. Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground.

Live a victorious life. Sin shall not be your master because you are not under law but under grace. Now that you have been set free from sin and have become a slave to God, you are more than conquerors through Him who loved you. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Thanks be to God! He gives us all the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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Bob Haslam, MDiv, is an editor, mentor, and freelance writer in Hermitage, Tennessee, United States

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