A Scottish preacher of the last century, Robert Murray McCheyne, said to his people, "I do not know, but I think that the ministry is not esteemed much among you as it ought to be; I may be wrong, but I think it. You are like the horses that have so much hay that they pull it down among their feet and trample on it." Christ described this ministry of the gospel in His words to Peter. He said, "Feed my sheep." The gospel preacher is to feed God's sheep with the water of the Word, the sincere milk of the word and the green pastures of the Word. Christ said, "I am the bread."
The evidence of all life is the necessity of sustaining it by feeding. If something is alive, it feeds; and if it is to stay alive, it feeds. I fear, as did McCheyne, that many have little regard for the ministry of God's Word. My fear is born out of what I see in those who profess to have life in Christ. At least two times weekly the table is spread for all who have an appetite for spiritual things, the things of Christ. How few there are who avail themselves of these opportunities.
Have we had the gospel so long, in such plenty and abundance, that like the horses who have so much hay that we trample it beneath the feet? Do we assume that it will be there when we want to hear it? Do we think it will go on if we do not support it? Do we have no hunger for the truth of God? That is what I fear the most. The lack of desire, the lack of need which reveals the lack of life! Our God says, "Come and dine!" "Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness." (Isa. 55:1,2)
It is the Lord who gives a gospel ministry and it is the Lord that can take away. Like McCheyne I say, "Ah brethren, though I feel that I have been unfaithful, far more than I can bear, yet you have been so too. Scotland has abused the ministry of the gospel for a long time; many come to hear, and go away displeased; many come to hear and criticize. Ah! think if God take away your candlestick, it will be righteously done." Do not lightly esteem the gospel ministry!