An important motive for pastoring

An important motive in pastoring is that you must care about what God cares about. It is especially important that you not be lazy, apathetic, or careless with those for whom God shed His own blood, as God the Son did on the cross. Thus, the Apostle Paul exhorted the Presbyters of Ephesus (Acts 20),

Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.

So if God shed his blood to obtain the Church, then you cannot neglect your duty to the Church. This reasoning actually applies to all Christians in general, not just pastors. For example, Paul writes about a particular problem:

But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak. For if anyone sees you who have knowledge eating in an idol’s temple, will he not be encouraged, if his conscience is weak, to eat food offered to idols? And so by your knowledge this weak person is destroyed, the brother for whom Christ died.

As Charles Hodge wrote about Paul’s appeal,

There is great power and pathos in these words. Shall we, for the sake of eating one kind of meat rather than another, endanger the salvation of those for whom the eternal Son of God laid down his life? The infinite distance between Christ and us, and the almost infinite distance between his sufferings and the trifling self-denial required at our hands, give to the apostle’s appeal a force the Christians heart cannot resist (1 Corinthians 8).

Another way to say this is that one should be willing to suffer for the sake of the body of Christ.  In chapter one of Colossians, the Apostle Paul writes of what he must do for the body of Christ in this way:

Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known

This, in fact, is articulated in the “preliminary principle” of Presbyterian Church structure:

Our blessed Saviour, for the edification of the visible Church, which is His body, has appointed officers not only to preach the Gospel and administer the Sacraments, but also to exercise discipline for the preservation both of truth and duty.

So either way, we must care about what God cares about.  Loving Christ means loving what he cares about.  His suffering for the sake of the Church and the importance of the Church as his own body both come together in Ephesians chapter 5,

Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

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