He was surrounded by a large crowd of people, and Jesus sent them all away. He turned them back. The sick, the hurting, the hungry, and the needy were turned away from the Savior and sent back to where they were from. This doesn’t sound like my Lord, is this really in the Bible? Why would Jesus do that?
There are some weeks that seem to end only a moment after they’ve started. The time in a day flies by, and it’s easy to feel as if only a portion of what needed to be done has been accomplished. And while responsibilities need to be maintained, the people in our community have countless needs that still haven’t been met. There are lost, broken, discouraged, and lonely people yearning for community. There are young believers waiting to be mentored. Add into that equation the invitations to get-togethers, parties, catch-ups, and Bible-studies that make their way onto the calendar. Amidst all of these things, we somehow find the time to eat and sleep, but tending to the human soul is often the area that is overlooked. That’s because the warning signs of an unhealthy soul are often hard to detect, but a soul unkept will lead to a life ineffective for the work of the Gospel.
Jesus said Himself in Matthew 20 that He came "to serve and give His life as a ransom for many." His purpose on this planet was to give Himself away. But our Lord knew that without a healthy soul, He would be ineffective in His mission. All throughout the Gospel, we see Jesus stepping away from the masses in order to spend time with His Father, rest, and prepare for the next opportunity to minister. Though His heart for the people was perfect and unconditionally loving (something we can’t say about ourselves!), the greatest act of love He could offer them at the time was to say no, for a better yes at a later time.
1. Every time we say “yes” to one thing, we say “no” to another.
For some people, it’s just hard to say no. We like to give, offer ourselves, and be available at any moment. But for every yes, there is a no. An effective worker for the kingdom of God isn’t someone who fills every hour of the day. Though a busy day leaves me feeling accomplished, a healthy and successful ministry is not about squeezing into every moment an action or interaction. Jesus had relationship with His Father and listened to Him. He is faithful to tell us when to commit, and when to decline for the sake of doing the better thing. In Luke 10, Mary was found at the feet of Jesus, worshipping Him. But the Word says that Martha was “distracted with much serving.” Oh how such a good thing can keep us from the best thing. When we serve the Lord and one another, we reflect His heart. But don’t miss God’s call to step away and refuel when He calls you.
2. Just because you’re filling a need, doesn’t mean you’re filling it the right way.
Offering an unhealthy “you" could be robbing someone of the ministry God has prepared for them. When I’ve neglected my time with the Lord and my moments of rest, I’m much more prone to dropping all those fruits of the Spirit. Peace leaves first. Patience quickly follows. And joy jumps ship like a coward soon after. I’m more prone to answer back in frustration, lose the love of what I get to do, and grow weary in the process. Though I’m present for the need, I’m filling it with a leaky bucket. Washing a car with dirty water may make it wet, but it certainly won’t end up clean. Take time to allow Jesus to switch out your filter and wash you in the water of the Word (Eph. 5:26).
3. You cannot advertise a cure to something that you yourself are dying from.
When we minister to those around us, we preach a Jesus that makes our yokes easy and our burdens light. We sing songs of healing, peace, and rest. And perhaps the people that need to sing those songs the most are us! I wouldn’t accept cleanliness tips from someone that doesn’t bathe. And I wouldn’t take financial advice from someone who’s broke. Our message of rest is hypocritical and loses value when the message hasn’t even done its work in us. A worship leader, pastor, or ministry worker who doesn’t take care of their soul is a classic example of the blind leading the blind. You’ll certainly lead them somewhere, but not every destination is a green pasture by still water. You cannot bring someone somewhere that you haven’t been. How can we advertise a cure to something when we haven’t truly found it ourselves?
How are you at soul-keeping? The Lord may be calling you to do less for the sake of the better thing. He truly cares for your soul. The Messiah-complex of “saving everyone who needs help,” will only mislead people, and burn you out. Plus, if the Messiah himself needed to retreat from the masses in order to spend time with His Father and be renewed for future ministry, then it seems as if we need it as well. Sometimes it can seem impossible to keep up appearances, fulfill man’s expectations, and finish our own daunting checklist. Drop the appearances, let go of those expectations, and let the Lord tell you what the day holds.
Bobby Bemis is the Fort Lauderdale Campus Worship Leader here at Calvary Chapel. Bobby is an incredible songwriter, singer and musician, teacher of the Word, and worship leader. He also loves ice cream!