Years ago, while traveling in the Midwest, I was looking forward to meeting an old friend of mine. When we were younger we had worked together on a Gospel team. I remember how I was challenged by his zeal for the Lord, his burden for others and his example as a servant.
Thinking about my friend, I realized that the most difficult part of maintaining a radical walk with the Lord is not practicing a new lifestyle. It’s not just mastering the basic teachings of the Bible or sharing our faith with others. It’s not even praying effectively in faith for those in need or fighting the devil over public schools and politics.
The toughest challenge for believers today is to stay close to our Lord on the front lines, practically engaged in bringing His love to this world.
How to Avoid the Slow Erosion of Your Heart
When we first come to know the Lord, we are so full of zeal and enthusiasm we can’t wait to serve Him.
However, as time goes by and we move from one challenge to the next, we get weary. We wonder when the struggles will end. We discover that constant alertness and attack from the devil are exhausting.
We suddenly long for peace, relaxation and early retirement. Most of us have no plans to quit serving the Lord altogether. We still want to serve, but we no longer want to be so closely engaged where we are under constant attack.
Quitting the service of the Lord is not an overnight decision. It’s a slow erosion of heart that often started long before. The shift is so subtle and gradual that we don’t see it coming. When we discover our compromise, we try to defend and justify our position. But in reality we have already lost much of the love and commitment we once had for the Lord and His kingdom.
How did this slow erosion all start? What was the root cause? How did we backslide, get sidetracked, quit the ministry and miss God’s perfect will? What was the powerful temptation that overran our post?
Let me answer these questions with a quote I read recently that went something like this:
Whenever you decide to live radically committed to Christ and His call to serve this world, watch out! Immediately you will find well-meaning people rallying around you to help you stay “balanced.” They’re not your enemies—but your friends, your family members and your brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ.
These people are truly concerned about your welfare. They give you heartfelt council: “Don’t overdo it. Think about your future. What about your family? You have rights too. You will burn out. This can’t be God’s will for you. God never wants you to go overboard with this commitment. Think about your wife and children. You will regret it later.”
The hardest decision you will ever have to make is to firmly tell those who love you,
“I have decided to follow Jesus. Today I have put my hand to the plow and cannot look back. I have determined to give my life for people who still need hope, for this life and for the next. Don’t hold me back or feel sorry for me. My heart is fixed. Don’t hold me back from pursuing the cross.”
Unless you make a firm stand to choose Christ over comfort, you will sooner or later end up on the sidelines. The temptation to give in is powerful because of the relationship and love that bind you to these well-meaning people. Jesus knew this very well. That’s why He told His disciples,
“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26–27).
Following Christ Means Bearing His Cross
Why do so many of our Christian brothers and sisters try to persuade us to seek our own comfort instead of laying down our lives? I believe the reason stems from a basic misunderstanding—they don’t recognize that following Christ means to embrace the cross and, with it, death to our own self.
A careful study of Hebrews 11 reveals that everyone in the “hall of faith” paid a tremendously high price to be mentioned as our examples. Some left their countries, others high positions and riches. Many were persecuted, faced loneliness and rejection. A great number were beaten, killed, sawn apart, imprisoned or burned alive. Yes, God rescued some of them to demonstrate His power, but many of them died for the sake of the Lord. The Bible says the world was not worthy of them.
When we look at the disciples and many of the Christians down through the centuries, we see thousands who died as martyrs while others suffered severe persecution for their faith. Paul’s proof of his apostleship was not his “successes,” but the price he paid for preaching the Gospel.His account in 2 Corinthians 11:23–28 lists scourging, imprisonments, beatings, a stoning, shipwrecks and being betrayed by his own countrymen and false Christians. He could boldly say, “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
If we are determined to serve the Lord to the end, we need to constantly examine everything we do in the light of eternity.
Think about the lifestyle you have, the vacations you take and the money you spend on yourself. What value do your things have in eternity? Do they help you maintain a broken heart for those in need of the Lord? If not, you need to make some changes.
Consider These Steps to Avoid the Slow Erosion of Your Heart
• Set aside one day of the week for fasting and prayer for the countries of the world. Read the book Operation World by Jason Mandryk to help you know how to pray for specific nations.
• Be a bold witness to your coworkers at your job, the checkout lady at the supermarket, the man who sells you gasoline and other people wherever you go.
• If you don’t currently support a national worker, consider supporting one today.
• Think about what extra “stuff” you could cut out of your budget to free up just $1 per day to support a brother or sister serving the Lord on the mission field.
• Do something that counts for eternity to avoid the slow erosion of your heart!
Read more posts by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan on the topic of serving the Lord in ministry.
You can engage in serving this world by joining Gospel for Asia’s prayer team.
Dr. KP Yohannan, founder and director of Gospel for Asia, has written more than 200 books, including Revolution in World Missions, an international bestseller with more than 4 million copies in print. He and his wife, Gisela, have two grown children, Daniel and Sarah, who both serve the Lord with their families.
Gospel for Asia has been serving the “least of these” in Asia since its beginning in 1979, often in places where no one else is serving. GFA supports national workers who are serving as the hands and feet of Christ by ministering to people’s needs so they can understand the love of God for them for the first time. GFA is engaged in dozens of projects, such as caring for poor children, slum dwellers and widows and orphans; providing clean water by funding wells; supporting medical missions; and meeting the needs of those in leprosy colonies. Through GFA’s Bridge of Hope Program, tens of thousands of children are being rescued from the generational curses of poverty and hopelessness.
Click here, to read more articles on Patheos by Dr. KP Yohannan Metropolitan.