It has been more than ten years since I preached my first sermon. I remember the day vividly. I put on the fresh new suit that my dad bought for me and I grabbed the sermon outline I had been working on for three weeks and left an hour early to go to a small little church house surrounded by cotton fields. Hegwood Baptist church, don’t bother Googling it, there is no website.
I walked up to the door and it opened from the inside. A sweet lady, whose name escapes me just happened to be dousing the building with Lysol because a skunk had decided to bed down under the porch the night before. No I am not kidding.
I came inside absolutely overdressed and even in that setting, in over my head; but God had prepared my heart and mind to preach His Word and the gospel of Christ weighed on that little one room country church heavily that morning. That morning more than anything else served to confirm in me that God had called, equipped and empowered me to preach the gospel of Christ.
Since that day I have been doing just that for more than ten years now. In all that time there is at least one thing that tends to gnaw at me after I preach and it is the sense of my own inadequacy and shortcoming. There is not a week that goes by that I don’t feel in some way that my sermon could have been better and that I failed to do justice to the theme and the text.
Last Sunday was no exception, but as I have wrestled with myself over a bad sermon I have been repeatedly rebuked by the Lord and His Word. My feelings of failure assume a works-based approach to my service to Christ. The thought that I have to be perfect is a denial of the grace that covers me as a believer. Don’t get me wrong, I want to preach well but the reality of God’s grace has to under-gird every area of my life, not just my salvation.
Furthermore, It is a pattern of Scripture that God delights to show His greatness in the lives of weak vessels. Take Abraham for example. Abraham was an old man with no son and God came to him promising that not only would he have a son but that his name, his line of descendants would never pass from the earth. God has made good on his promise and flexed his muscle despite Abraham’s weakness.
Moses was a murderous stutterer who ran away from his problems, but God came to him promising to lead Israel out from under bondage to Egypt, which was the greatest nation on earth. Again God flexed, Moses obeyed and the rest is history.
What about Paul? The apostle Paul was a self-righteous persecutor of the church and Christ called him to spread the gospel into all the known world in the first century. His legacy lives on by God’s preserving power and the words of Paul are still being carried to the ends of the earth today.
In each example is a man with marked weaknesses who had an encounter with God that left them forever changed. And for the rest of their lives they were strengthened not by their talents, but by God Himself. So with this in mind I have been battling for joy all week.
What about you? What is your hang-up? What is the weakness that you place before God saying, “You can’t use me, I’m________.”
Battle your insecurity with the reality of the cross, that you are His not because of your talents but because of his covenant love and grace. You are child of God, not because of some proficiency that attracted God to you, but because of Christ who gave of his strength to make up for your weakness. He gave his life and transfers his righteousness to those who are dead and have no righteousness of their own.
Let the weight of the gospel quiet the accusations that mount against you, even those that come from within.