Reformed Baptist Fellowship

Sowing In Hope

In Reformed Baptist Fellowship on May 21, 2013 at 10:45 am

Sowing in Hope

I have been involved in one form or another in the public ministry of God’s word for over 35 years.  In those years I have taught or preached nearly 3,000 times.  Over the past several years I have noticed a general sense of weariness or fatigue in the ministry.  I now believe I have been battling discouragement.  This discouragement, for me, has been rooted in what I will term a ‘theologically informed pessimism’.  This reality was exposed recently in my own preaching on Paul’s defense before Agrippa and Festus as recorded in Acts 26.  Paul had every reason to be discouraged and pessimistic in bringing the gospel to these men.  He was seeking to present the truth to men whom he knew were dead int their sins and trespasses.  They were furthermore from a group (the rich and powerful) were conversions are rare (see 1 Cor. 1:26-29).  He also knew that the core message he brought (Christ and Him crucified) was offensive and foolish to the very men he sought to reach.  What struck me and convicted me is not only that Paul preached the truth anyway (always the faithful plodder), but that he did so with such passion.  When Festus tells him that his great learning has driven him mad, Paul pleads with him that his message is one rooted in truth and reality.  When the King mocks Paul’s attempts to ‘convert’ him, Paul tells him that desires all men to have what he has (with the exception of his chains).  How often had Paul faced just this kind unbelief, skepticism, and rejection?  And yet, he carried on.  And he did so in hope.

In this light, I have been meditating upon Paul’s word to the Corinthians as found in chapter 9. He is dealing with subject of teachers and preachers receiving a financial reward for their labor.  In that context he says, 1 Corinthians 9:10 ..[it] is written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should be partaker of his hope.

Paul makes his argument based upon a certain ‘truism’.  Those who plow and sow and thresh do so in hope.  They do not do it merely to be faithful to their task.  They are thinking of all the lunches and dinners down the road that make the labor and toil worth it all.   I have labored all my ministerial life to be faithful.  In the midst of this I have at times lost hope.  I have taught with a desire to please God but, at times, with little hope that it would do anything.  That it would change people or help people or convert people.  Why?  Because of what I so often  seen and experienced.  But God’s word is powerful.  It does sanctify and it does save.  It is a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces and a sword which cuts into the inner being of saints and sinners.  I am repenting of my pessimism.  I am taking up God’s Word with fresh hope.  I do so as one who plows and one who sows anticipating the fruits of my labors.

Jim Savastio, Pastor
Reformed Baptist Church of Louisville
  1. Pastor Savastio,

    You echoed my experience and feelings in the work of the ministry so perfectly, I wondered if you were a mind reader. But I think every pastor who has been at this for decades like we have would say the same thing, because that is the reality of the ministry.

    Two verses, clung to by raw faith, have kept me going through the discouragements:

    1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

    Galatians 6:9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

    Thank God for His promises. They are true. Let us act like they are, and carry on in the face of little apparent fruit. There is fruit and results we know not of, that will only be revealed on the day of judgment.

    What we do matters, whether it seems to or not to the eye of sight. As you so well said, let us repent of our pessimism, and be strong in faith, being fully persuaded, that what God has promised, He is able fully to perform.

    Habakkuk understood, and shows us the way:

    Habakkuk 3:17 Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: 18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation. 19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

    Thanks for your blog.

  2. Thanks to both of you! In ministering on a daily basis to those who have been entrenched in Arminianism, I go through considerable discouragement, but, when I begin to wonder, “What’s the use?”, God always sends me encouragement by the scripture promises, and by people who have finally heard the true gospel and express their thanks to me for being faithful. It is also comforting to know that men like you go through these same struggles. Thanks again!

  3. Dear Pastor Savastio: Thank you.

  4. I am not a pastor, but I do struggle with living in “experience” instead of hope. I have to remind myself often not to judge my life in the light of what I see, but of what the scripture tells me is true. Thank you for this reminder.

  5. Very encouraging!

    I remember once hearing an old preacher confess in a sermon, that he often preached without any conscious faith that sinners would be saved. He lamented publicly his unbelief. I too must confess I’ve done the same thing far more often. May the Lord give us repentance and faith, enabling us to “sow in hope.”

    Psalm 126:6 – He who goes out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with him.

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