The first and most powerful temptation is to doubt the goodness of God.
Our job, in large part, is to satisfy ourselves in God’s goodness. You can’t fake this. We can preach and lead and serve: all of this can be faked. But if we’re not ourselves satisfied with the goodness of God, then we’ve got nothing to offer. We’re just going through the motions.
One of our primary responsibilities, then, is to feast on God’s goodness. We must ourselves know God’s heart for us if we have anything to offer to the world.
That’s why I’m so drawn to the opening words of The Heart of Christ by Thomas Goodwin. I read them often because I forget that they’re true. Read them. Feast on them, not for others but for you.
Having set forth our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ … I shall now annex this discourse that follows, which lays open the heart of Christ, as he is now in heaven, sitting at God’s right hand and interceding for us; how it is affected and graciously disposed towards sinners on earth that do come to him; how willing to receive them; how ready to entertain them; how tender to pity them in all their infirmities, both sins and miseries…
Goodwin goes on, but there’s enough in this paragraph to feed on for days.
Pastor: Preach this to yourself before you preach it to others. Satisfy yourself with his goodness. Lead yourself to Christ’s heart so that you can lead others. If you’re preaching this Sunday, aim to lead people here, but get there yourself first. He is graciously disposed to us. He is tender toward us. Preach it. Soak in it. Breathe it in. I don’t believe it nearly enough, but to the extent that I do, it makes all the difference in the world.