The work of a local church pastor is not only some of the most important labor this side of heaven, but it is also a work that is filled with challenges. For instance, many pastors find themselves looking for easy ways to build the church. Countless books are written each year on methodologies and stratagem. But there are few that are written to engage our hearts.
Consider how important the pastor’s heart is to God’s great cause of magnifying His Son on this world. God has chosen to set apart followers for the work of ministry. He’s given His holy servants the opportunity, quoting M’Cheyne, “to be an awful weapon in the hand of God.” Pastor, your heart is important, then.
We know that the greatest commandment in the Bible speaks of loving God with all of our hearts. Unfortunately, we agree with Isaiah who said that the heart is deceitful and wicked; the heart is difficult to know. But, the New Covenant promises assure us that in Christ, we have a new heart. And, we can pursue the call of Proverbs 4:23 to keep our hearts with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.
In the book of Hebrews, the writer ends with a flourish in chapter 13. We are called to Biblical love (13:1-3), healthy marriages (13:4), contentment (5-6), sanctification (13-14), worship (15-16) and godly leadership (13:17). And right smack dab in the middle of these calls comes the Gospel truth of Hebrews 13:7-12. Because there had been leaders among them who exhibited a changed heart, they were worth imitating and following. After all, the truths of the Gospel never change: Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever. And it’s at this point that a striking call comes in v.9:
"Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings,
for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace,
not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them."
Get that? We aren’t to let other doctrines distract us from Christ and we’re not to be overly devoted to food. No. Our hearts were not made for distracting doctrine or failing foods. How do our hearts get stronger, then? Well, we’re told here that the heart is strengthened by grace.
From v.9, the writer goes on to show us that all the other sacrifices fail compared to the true and sufficient sacrifice of Christ. We would say, “Hallelujah and Amen.” But, how many of us are strengthening our hearts by grace. How is the Gospel bearing rich spiritual fruit in you?
Pastor, your greatest need isn’t a conference, a retreat, date night, a good meal or a host of other things we tend to lean on when we’re stressed. No. Our greatest need is the message of the Gospel of grace. It will not only strengthen our hearts. It will produce fruit in us that will affect all the areas of ministry in which we’re engaged. Today, hear the simple truth of the Bible: “It’s good for your heart to be strengthened by grace.” Strengthen yourself in the mighty stream of salvation accomplished by the Savior of your soul.