" The horseleach hath two daughters, crying, Give, Give. "
There are two Gospels out there - one is of Faith; the other of Presumption.
The Church has long embraced a Gospel of entitlement. Our Sunday sermons are rife with messages of prosperity and blessing, while messages of sacrifice, brokenness, obedience, and the fear of God are relegated to obscure bylines. We have been taught to give, not because we want souls to be saved, but because we want to be blessed. We pray for all our ailments and needs, expecting that God is required to bless us for asking, but how often do we prostrate ourselves for hours before the Throne of God in a desperate thirst for souls? We pay lip-service to the command to witness, hoping that someone else will do it, while we tell each other how wonderful it is to be saved, but we are not cut to the heart, as it says in Amos, "for the afflictions of Joseph".
But the Gospel of Jesus Christ is not about us. It will never be about us -- it is about others. This is the essence of the Cross, the lifeblood of Charity, and the true call to revival. But the best of intentions, hopes and desires that are not coupled with subjected obedience is not charity but presumption and a form of rebellion. It is the result of uncrucified flesh. We are supposed to serve God; not the other way around.
Throughout the ages, God has called men and women to give up all that they possess to go forth into the ministry, encouraging them that although they will face incredible difficulties, He will provide for them and open paths before them to fulfill that which He has called them to do. Some go on to establish great ministries while others labor in obscurity and hardships. His plan is not always clear, and His ways are more often than not past understanding. And yet they go, expecting nothing in return, to lift up the Blood Stained Banner and declare unto a world of sin the hope of Salvation for all mankind.
But others go forth armed only with their own personal desire to enter into a ministry of their own choosing. Not waiting for the call of God, they declare themselves pastors and ministers of the Gospel and head out in their presumption. They attempt to mimic the call they see on others by quitting their job and relying upon others to support them. It is a small wonder that so many wind up with an anemic ministry that cannot pay their bills and cannot influence the society around them. Instead of becoming a strong testimony of Faith, they become an example of failed presumption.
The difference between faith and presumption has to do with our focus. One has to do with obedience to God's Will while the other is in obedience to our own. One is focused upon others while the other is focused upon ourselves.
But many do not see it that way. They clothe their presumption by claiming to "step out by faith" and expect someone else to support them while they refuse to get a job - ostensibly because they were "called into the ministry". But when God fails to respond and their great hopes and aspirations begin to fall flat, who is to blame? When their testimony crumbles before the unsaved and they can neither win souls nor pay their bills, do they consider that something might be wrong? No, they blame the congregation (it is always somebody else's fault).
But that's not what Paul believed. As Paul was leaving the Ephesians in Acts chapter 20, he admonished them that his own hands had ministered to his necessities showing them that by so laboring we ought to support the weak. We are supposed to feed the sheep, not fleece them.
No wonder so many of the sheep are wandering about as the prophet Joel predicted, "groaning for pasture". The watering holes have been muddied and the fields trampled down by self-appointed preachers in their rush to fulfill their own personal aspirations. God does not say, "Woe to the flocks that scatter the pastors", but "Woe to the pastors that scatter the flocks."
The call of God is not about us, our ministry, our wants and desires - it is about obedience to God and a focus on lost souls. When we forget that in a vain attempt to build our own ministries without a broken, sacrificial surrender to the Will of God, we build our own Tower of Babel in a vain attempt to "reach unto heaven." Without a firm foundation, the tower that we construct will not stand. Its blocks are made of spiritual pride and cemented with the sand of presumption. It will only go so high before it falls and crushes all that trust in it.
It has been said that the hardest thing for a Christian to learn is to wait upon the Lord. While we watch others rush into their predetermined course of ministry, we may fear that we have been left behind and have missed our chance to serve God, but the true heart that is crucified to obedience to the will of God must fall back into that trust that cries out as the Psalmist did, "We delight to Thy will, O God" and yield our lives to His plan.
Do we trust our own plan and bolster our presumption with a manufactured faith? Or do we trust God and yield our broken will to His plan?
This is the trust that martyrs throughout the centuries relied upon, the faith that fueled the Hall of Heroes in Hebrews 11, and the sacrificial obedience that we are called to.
That is the trust that Jesus had when He rested upon the Cross and declared, "It is finished."