My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you …
God’s plan is ever that His servants feel His burdens and take them as their own. Moses prayed with the burden of God on his heart as he said, “Forgive their sin – if not, then blot me out of the book you have written” (Exod 32:32). Paul wrote, “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race” (Rom. 9:2-3). That is the servant’s passion – not that he look good but that those who he serves look good before God. Just as Christ left everything and laid down His life for the joy set before Him, that is, for the joy of seeing people in heaven who have believed in Him, so we discover great fulfillment when we get God’s burdens on our hearts and we are motivated for more noble things. Until we come to such a position, we will not really understand ministry or of taking on the burdens of God.
In fact, let me go further: this Galatians 4:19 passage about Christ being formed in the hearts of the people is such a beautiful description of the goals of ministry and of the church itself, that I have often wished it had been separated from the first part of the verse, which to me has sometimes seemed a distraction. But God put that verse together for a reason: that the forming of Christ in the lives of the people does not normally take place without the commitment of a servant of God who labors under the burden of God for the people. If the people get angry at the servant, what breaks his heart is not their rejection of him but their rejection of God’s truth. God has welded those two thoughts together in His book because in the practical outworking they are inseparable.
Of course there are times when because of the lack of faith we must shake the dust off our feet and move on but it should never be with anything other than a broken heart. Until a servant has identified the Lord’s character and mission as His character and mission, he has not done his job. And this is true, by the way, not just for a pastor but for all of God’s people. We are all to have the burdens of God on our hearts.
Lord, show us Your heart’s desires and let them become ours. Amen.