A Sermon To Ministers And Other Tried Believers
“Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”
1 Peter 5:7
THIS season of depression in trade has brought great care to many a house and heart, especially to village pastors and their flocks. Their troubles have been heavy and I am afraid their cares have not been light. Few have escaped the pinch of these hard times–the most prosperous have to watch the ebbing tide and ask–How long shall these things be? The subject will be seasonable to us all.
A very good preface to any sermon is the connection–let us look at the passage before us. The verse preceding it is, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” If we are truly humble, we shall cast our care upon God and, by that process, our joy will be exalted! We are slow to submit to the hand of God and oftentimes our care is fretful rebellion against our heavenly Father’s will. We determine to carve for ourselves, and so we cut our fingers! I saw upon a cart only yesterday the name of a tradesman who calls himself, “Universal Provider”–do we not aspire to some such office? There is a Universal Provider–and if we are humble under His hand, weshall leave our matter in His hands. Oh, for more humility, for then shall we have more tranquility! Pride begets anxiety–true humility gives birth to patience.
The verse which follows our text is this–“Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about seeking whom he may devour.” Cast your care upon God because you need all your powers of thought to battle with the great enemy. He hopes to devour you by care. Cast all your care upon God, for if you are worried you cannot be sober or watchful. Satan rides on the back of carnal care and so obtains entrance into the soul. If he can distract our minds from the peace of faith by temporal cares, he will get an advantage over us.
The preface allowed of expansion, but I have compressed it with stern economy of time. I must condense with equal rigor all through my discourse. We will first expound the text and then enforce it.
- First, let us EXPOUND THE TEXT–“Casting all your care for you.”
It is noteworthy that in the Greek, the two words for, “care,” are different. Hence the Revised Version reads, “Casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.” The care which you are to cast upon God is wearing you out and you are to cast it upon God because, in quite another sense, “He cares for you.” The word used in reference to God is applied to caring for the poor and in another place to the watchfulness of a shepherd. Our anxiety and God’s care are two very different things. His care, though tender and comprehensive, causes no anxiety to Him, for His great mind is more than equal to the task. But our care ferments within us and threatens the destruction of our narrow souls. You are to cast your care, which is folly, upon the Lord, for He exercises a care which is wisdom! Care to us is exhausting, but God is AllSufficient. Care to us is sinful, but God’s care of us is holy. Care distracts us from service, but the Divine Mind does not forget one thing while remembering another!
If our care is to be cast upon God, we are hereby led to make a distinction, for there is a care which we could not dare to cast upon God–it would be blasphemy to attempt it! Anxiety to grow rich–can we impart that to God? Anxiety to be famous, to live in luxury, to avenge an injury, to magnify myself–can I ask the Most High to bear such an anxiety for me? If any of you are vexed with such care, I charge you to fling it off, for it is like the poisoned tunic of Hercules, and unless you can tear it away, it will burn into your very soul! All cares of covetousness, anger, pride, ambition and willfulness must be cast to the winds–it would be criminal to dream of casting them upon God! Do not pray about them, except that God will redeem you from them. Let your desires be kept within a narrow circle and your anxieties will be lessened at a stroke.
“Casting,” says the Apostle. He does not say “laying all your care upon Him,” but he uses a much more energetic word. You have to cast the load upon the Lord–the act will require effort. It is no child’s play to cast all our care upon our Lord when there are six little children, shoes worn out, cupboard empty, purse bare and the deacons talking of reducing the scanty salary! Here is a work worthy of faith–you will have to lift with all your soul before the burden can be shifted and the anxiety cast upon the Lord! That effort, however, will not be half as exhausting as the effort of carrying your load yourself. Oh, the burden of watching and waiting for help which never comes! Depending on the help of man who is altogether vanity! Oh, the weariness of carrying a heartbreaking anxiety and yet standing up to preach! We have all seen statues of Atlas bearing the world on his shoulders, but we can hardly conceive of his preaching in that attitude! It would be better to make one tremendous effort and have done with it, rather than groan under a perpetual weight. If the fox is eating into our heart, let us pluck it from our bosom and kill it at once!
Note, next, the words, “upon Him.” You may tell your griefs to others to gain their sympathy, for we are bid to bearone another’s burdens. You may ask friends to help you and so exercise your humility, but let your requests to man be ever in subordination to your waiting upon God! Some have obtained their full share of human help by much begging from their fellow Christians, but it is a nobler thing to make known your requests unto God! But somehow, those who beg only of God are wondrously sustained where others fail! What a pleasant story is that in which we recount the loving kindness of the Lord and tell how “this poor man cried and the Lord heard him.” Quiet, patient Believers have come under my notice who have carried their cross in silence, waiting alone upon the Lord. How they endured their trial, I cannot tell, save that “they endured, as seeing Him who is invisible.” But their necessity became known, it leaked out, they knew not how, and they were helped–and helped better than they would have been if their appeal had been to man! I am condemning no appeal to our fellow Believers! Many are willing to help, but they cannot do so if the need is unknown–but do not place anyone in the office and throne of the great God who alone is the Caretaker and Burden-Bearer of His people! I am afraid that, sometimes, in our care not to alienate this great man who does so much for the cause, or that excellent lady who takes half-a-dozen sittings in the chapel, we may grieve the Lord and lose our true Helper. Cease, then, from man and cast all your care upon God–and upon Him only!
Certain courses of action are the very reverse of casting all your care upon God, and one is indifference. Whatevervirtue there may be in stoicism, it is unknown to the true child of God. “I don’t care,” may be an appropriate expression for an atheist to use, but it is not suitable for a Christian! It may sound well and the man who utters the defiant words may think himself some great one, but it is an evil utterance for all that. I am afraid some Brothers' “I don’t care,” is very sinful, for they get into debt and don’t care. They break their promises and engagements and don’t care. Brothers, such men ought to care! Every man is bound to care about his life duties and the claims of his family. He that cares not for his own household is worse than a heathen! Casting care upon God is the very reverse of reckless and inconsiderateness!
It is not casting care upon God when a man does that which is wrong in order to clear himself. Yet this is too oftentried. Under pressure, some men do very unjustifiable things. We ought to be slow to condemn since we ourselves also may yet be tempted in the same way and may err in like manner. Still, faith ought to be able to win every battle. He who compromises truth to avoid pecuniary loss is hewing out a broken cistern for himself. He who borrows when he knows he cannot pay, he who enter into wild speculations to increase his income, he who does anything that is ungodly in order to turn a penny is not casting his care upon God! An act of disobedience is a rejection of God’s help so that we may help ourselves. He who does the right thing at all hazards practically casts his care upon the Lord. Acts are with us, but their consequences are with God! Our main care should be to please God–and all other care we may safely leave to Him.
How, then, are we to cast all our care upon God? Two things need to be done. It is a heavy load that is to be cast upon God and it requires the hand of prayer and the hand of faith to make the transfer. Prayer tells God what the care is and asks God to help, while faith believes that God can and will do it. Prayer spreads the letter of trouble and grief before the Lord and opens all its budget. And then Faith cries, “I believe that God cares, and cares for me! I believe that He will bring me out of my distress and make it promote His own Glory.”
When you have thus lifted your care into its true position and cast it upon God, take heed that you do not pick it up again. Many a time have I gone to God and have relieved my care by believing prayer–but I am ashamed to confess that after a little time, I have found myself burdened again with those very anxieties which I thought I had given up! Is it wise to put our feet into fetters which have once been broken off? My Brothers, there is a more excellent way–a way which I have tried and proved. I have at times been perplexed with difficulties. I have tried my best with them and I have utterly failed. And then I have gone with the perplexity to the Throne of God and placed the whole case in the Lord’s hands, solemnly resolving never to trouble myself about the aforesaid matters any more, whatever might happen. I was quite incapable of further action in the matter and so I washed my hands of the whole concern and left it with God. Some of these cares I have never seen again–they melted like hoar frost in the morning sun–and in their place I have found a blessing lying on the ground. Other troubles have remained in fact but not in effect, for I have consented to the yoke and it has never galled my shoulder again. Brethren, let the dead bury their dead, and let us follow Jesus! Henceforth let us leave worldlings to fret and fume over the cares of this life–as for us, let our conversation be in Heaven, and let us carefully abstain from carelessness, being anxious only to end anxiety by a childlike confidence in God!
II. Accept this little contribution towards an exposition, and let us now proceed to ENFORCE THE TEXT. I will give you certain reasonswhy you should cast all your care upon God.
First, the ever-blessed One commands you to do it. We need no other reason. The precept is akin to the Gospel command, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” It is a blessed privilege and it is also a command. He who bids us cease from idolatry, also bids us cease from care. The Law of Sabbath-keeping is not more Divine than that of resting in the Lord. He whom we call Master and Lord bids us take no anxious thought–His bidding has all the authority of Law. Say to yourself, my anxious Brother, “I may roll my burden upon the Lord, for He bids me do so.” If you do not trust in God, you will be distinctly sinful–you are as much commanded to trust as to love.
Next, cast all your cares on God because you will have matters enough to think of even then! There are sacred careswhich the Lord will lay upon you because you have cast your care upon Him. When He has broken your painful yoke, you will have His easy yoke to bear. There is the care to love and serve Him better, the care to understand His Word, the care to preach it to His people, the care to experience His fellowship, the care to walk so that you shall not vex the Holy Spirit. Such hallowed cares will always be with you and will increase as you grow in Grace. In a sense, we may cast even these upon God, looking for His Holy Spirit to help us, for it is He that works in us to will and to do of His own good pleasure–yet not without our care and zeal does He operate upon us–and this is one reason why you are not to allow lower ends and designs to inundate your mind. Your spirit has another vineyard to keep, another capital to put out to interest, another Master to please and it cannot afford to yield its thought to meaner pursuits. Ministers are shepherds and must care for the sheep! “The hireling flee because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep.” But you have the care of churches laid upon you daily, and it is peculiarly necessary that you should not be occupied with carnal care.
And, next, you must cast your care upon God, because you have God’s business to do. It is a dangerous thing for amerchant to employ a man who has a business of his own, because sooner or later the master’s business will suffer, or else the man’s own concern will die out. “No man that wars,” says Paul, “entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who has chosen him to be a soldier.” There is sure to be a clashing of interests when a Brother goes into business, unless he does it as Paul did–that he may not be chargeable to the Church–for then he attains to double honor. Paul carried his needle and thread with him wherever he went, for everybody had a tent in those days, and he was ready for work at any moment either upon small family tents, or tents to cover a great assembly. When he had finished preaching, he could turn to mending tents and so earn his own living and preach the Gospel freely. Paul did not make his preaching a stalking-horse to his trade, but he made his handicraft a packhorse to his ministry, so that he could say, “These hands have ministered unto my necessities, and to them that were with me.” That is a very different thing from a minister deserting his charge to make a larger income by some other calling. The less we have to do with other business the better, for all our care is needed by the Church.
Queen Elizabeth bade a notable merchant in the City of London go to the Continent on royal business. “Please, Your Majesty, he said, "who will attend to my business while I am away?” The queen replied, ‘If you will go abroad and see to my business, I will see to your business.“ I will be bound to say that it would not suffer if such a queen took it in hand! Just so the Lord says to us, "You attend to My work and I will take care of you and your wife and children.” The Lord pledges Himself to do it–bread shall be given us, our water shall be sure! The testimony of many among you will bear me out in this. I come of a line of preachers and though some of them have had to endure straitened circumstances, yet none of them were forsaken, nor have their seed been seen begging bread. The Lord has cared for us and we have lacked nothing.
You ought to do it not only for this reason, but because it is such a great privilege to be able to cast your care uponGod. If I am plunged in a lawsuit and some eminent lawyer would offer to undertake it all, out of love to me, how glad I would be! I would worry no longer. I would say to all who troubled me on the matter, “You must go to my solicitor. I know nothing about the matter.” Do this to your cunning enemy, the devil, who is always glad to see you anxious and fretful. Let us say to him, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan, even the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you.” What a file that is for the old viper to break his teeth upon! Chosen! CHOSEN! And if chosen, shall we not be cared for?
Let me add that you ministers ought to cast all your care upon God because it will be such a good example for yourhearers. Our people learn much from our conduct. And if they see us fretting, they will be certain to do the same. You preach faith, do you not? How sad it will be for you to be convicted of unbelief! Our own words may condemn us if we are anxious. Once when I was unduly depressed, my good wife said to me, “I have a book here which I should like to read to you.” It did me good to hear her read, but I felt myself rebuked by every word! I half suspected what was coming when she said, “That is your own, remember?” She had been giving the doctor some of his own medicine! What a many things you have said, my Brothers, that will condemn you if you do not trust God! Is it, after all, mere talk? Did you mean what you said and is it true? Or have you merely been repeating official dogmas in which you have no personal confidence? Is the Providence of God a myth, or a living, bright reality? “Here,” said a quack in the market, “is a medicine that will cure coughs, colds, consumptions [the fellow coughed horribly at this point]. It is of such efficacy that it would almost restore the dead. [Here he coughed again.] Nobody need remain a sufferer–he has only to buy a box of the pills” [here the quack’s own cough prevented him from speaking.] Ah, laugh on, laugh on, Brothers, only find that nobody laughs at you for doubting while you extol faith! We must show in ourselves that faith in our God is a healing medicine, or man will not believe us! We shall make Christ, Himself, seem to be a pretender unless we practically prove that we have been healed by Him. Let your people see in you what comes of trusting Christ! Let them see what cheerfulness, what hopefulness, what buoyancy of spirit come to those who trust Christ and cast all their cares upon Him!
But the reason of reasons is that contained in our text, “He cares for you.” After all, what a small matter it must beto God to care for us, since He provides for the commissariat of the universe, the feeding of the cattle on a thousand hills and the wild beasts of the plains! Think of those myriads of fish, those armies of birds, those enormous multitudes of insects! What a God must He be who cares for all! Compared with the demands of all these, our little needs are soon supplied. We need but little and that little is scarcely a crumb from the table of the Lord our God. Surely if God says, “I will care for you,” we need not give another thought except to sing, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” It does not need two of us for this small matter, and certainly not two when One is Infinite in wisdom and power! Even if we were wise, the Lord would not need our help. With whom took He counsel and who instructed Him when He created the earth, piled the mountains and spanned the sky? Let us, therefore, stand still and see the salvation of God! The Lord thinks about us, plans for us, arranges for us, studies to make things right for us–these are poor words with which to describe His care, for He does more than that–He loves us. That great, boundless, mighty heart loves us! This is fit matter for a heavenly song! Because He has set His love upon us, we can surely cast our care upon Him. He has given us Christ–will He not give us bread? See, He has called us to be His sons– will He starve His children? See what He is preparing for us in Heaven–will He not enable us to bear the burdens of this present life? We dishonor God when we suspect His tenderness and generosity! We can only magnify Him by a calm faith which leans upon His Word.
There, dear Brothers, there is my word from the Master for you. I should like to have hammered out that little grain of gold so that you might have gilded your lives with it, but please do it for yourselves. Now will you carry your cares away, or will you bow your heads in silent prayer and throw them all off? Holy Spirit, the Comforter, lighten our darkness, we beseech You!