Edwards on the Ministry (16)
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus… Philippians 2.5
Everyone follows a rule of disciplines which shape, guide, and define their lives. The problem with too many of us is we have not clearly defined that rule. Instead, we have just fallen into certain habits, practices, and ways of doing things that seem to work well enough for us.
However, we may not be making the best use of our time, and that means we may not be following Jesus as carefully as we might.
In “Christ the Example of Ministers” Jonathan Edwards urged us to take Jesus as our rule of life: “The example of Christ is most worthy of ministers’ imitation. His example was perfect, without error, blemish, or defect; and therefore worthy to be made our rule, and to be regarded and followed without exception, limitation, or reserve; unless in those things which he did that were proper to his peculiar office. Christ’s virtue was not only perfect, but was exercised in those circumstances, and under those trials, that rendered his virtuous acts vastly the more amiable of any that ever appeared in any creature whether man or angel.”
Being clothed with the virtues and righteousness of Christ begins within, in our hearts and minds (Eph. 4.17-24). When we earnestly desire to be more like Jesus, we will devote our minds to learning what that requires of us. Then, as we come to value the righteousness of Jesus, and call on His Spirit to clothe us with it, we will find that we’re more conscious of how we use our time, and more careful to use it wisely (Eph. 5.15-17).
What does it mean for Jesus to be our rule of life? Put another way, What does it look like when Jesus is truly ruling in all the time of our lives?
Resources for Shepherds
Maybe we should look at the time of our lives and how we’re using it. Download “The Time of Your Life” worksheet and discover how you can bring more of your life under the rule of King Jesus. Download the worksheet by clicking here, then print it on two sides of one sheet and fold it into a tri-fold brochure.
Our book Fan into Flame also provides a series of assessment tools to help you determine ways to improve all aspects of your ministry. Order your free copy by clicking here.
From the Celtic Revival
The monks and other leaders God used during the period of the Celtic Revival understood the value of bringing all our time into the purpose of Jesus Christ by following a rule of life:
“Each day carries with it three duties: prayer, work, and reading. There should be no idleness in the monastery, and so instruction, writing, and the repair of clothing or other useful work should be provided as the Lord says, ‘that you appear not before me empty-handed.’”
- Rule of the Céli Dè (9th century)
An earlier rule, The Rule of Columcille, sounds the same note about how we should use our time:
“Your daily occupation should be threefold, namely, prayer, manual labor, and lectio [sacred reading]. Your manual labor should have a three-fold division. First, fill your own needs and those of the place where you live. Secondly, do your share of your brothers’ work [that is, the work of the community]. Thirdly, help your neighbor by instruction, by writing, by making garments, or by providing for any other need of theirs that may arise.
Our PDF book, Living to Rule, offers a survey and explanation of these rules, and suggests ways we might learn from our Celtic Christian forebears how to be more effective for Christ and His Kingdom in our own lives. Download your free copy of Living to Rule by clicking here.
T. M. Moore
Cowper on Preaching
William Cowper, hymn writer and poet, offered some compelling and convicting insight into the work of preaching in his lengthy poem, The Task. Our book, An Essay on Preaching, arranges those excerpts into a concise overview of Cowper’s views on late 19th century preaching in England. A free copy awaits you by clicking here.
It is our privilege to provide resources and opportunities to equip and encourage church leaders in building the Lord’s Church and advancing His Kingdom. Please pray that God will move many of those we serve through this ministry to share with us financially in its support. If the Lord moves you to give, you can use the Contribute button at the website to give with a credit card or through PayPal or Anedot, or you can send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 360 Zephyr Road, Williston, VT 05495.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.