“Here is a lesson for all who would be pastors of Christ’s flock” by Charles Spurgeon

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.

He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.” (John 21:15–17)

“Here is a lesson for all who would be pastors of Christ’s flock.

The first necessity of a true pastor is love to Christ, the second necessity of a true pastor is love to Christ, and the third necessity of a true pastor is love to Christ.

A man who does not love the great Shepherd cannot properly feed either his sheep or lambs.

If his own heart is not right towards the divine Owner of the sheep, he cannot be a true under-shepherd to Christ’s flock.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “Following Christ,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 53 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1907), 53: 456.

“He is Lord of all, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest” by Charles Spurgeon

“Christ is such a pitiful One that He seeks out those that are cast down: He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.

He lays Himself out to succour them that are tempted, and therefore He does not hide himself from them, nor pass them by on the other side.

What an example is this for us! He devotes Himself to this divine business of comforting all such as mourn. He is Lord of all, yet makes Himself the servant of the weakest.

Whatever He may do with the strongest, He succours “them that are tempted.” (Heb. 2:18)

He does not throw up the business in disgust.

He does not grow cross or angry with them because they are so foolish as to give way to idle fears.

He does not tell them that it is all their nerves, and that they are stupid and silly, and ought to shake themselves out of such nonsense.

I have often heard people talk in that fashion, and I have half wished that they had felt a little twinge of depression themselves, just to put them into a more tender humour.

The Lord Jesus never overdrives a lame sheep, but He sets the bone, and carries the sheep on His shoulders, so tenderly compassionate is He. Here is His pity.

He has the right to succour them that are tempted, for they are His own, since He has bought them with His blood. The feeble, the weak, the trembling, the desponding, are His care, committed to Him by God.

He said, “Fear not, little flock.” (Luke 12:32) This shows that His flock is little and timid.

He says, “Fear not, little flock,” because they have great tendency to fear, and because He does not like to see them thus troubled.

He has bought them, and so He has the right to succour them, and preserve them to the end.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Suffering Saviour’s Sympathy,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 33 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1887), 33: 416-417.

“He abounds in tenderness” by Charles Spurgeon

“You see God did not choose angels to be made high priests; because, however benevolent they might be in their wishes, they could not be sympathetic. They could not understand the peculiar wants and trials of the men with whom they had to deal.

Ministers who of God are made to be a flame of fire could scarce commune familiarly with those who confess themselves to be as dust and ashes.

But the high priest was one of themselves. However dignified his office, he was still a man. He was one of whom we read that he could lose his wife, that he could lose his sons. He had to eat and to drink, to be sick and to suffer, just as the rest of the people did.

And all this was necessary that he might be able to enter into their feelings and represent those feelings before God, and that he might, when speaking to them for God, not speak as a superior, looking down upon them, but as one who sat by their side, “a brother born for adversity,” (Prov. 17:17) bone of their bone, and flesh of their flesh.

Now this is peculiarly so in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is sympathetic above all. (Heb. 2:18) There is none so tender as He. He has learnt it by His sufferings; but He proves it by His continual condescension towards His suffering people.

My brethren, we that preach the gospel, you that teach it in the Sabbath-school– you will always find your greatest power lies in love. There is more eloquence in love than in all the words that the most clever rhetorician can ever put together.

We win upon men not so much by poetry and by artistic wording of sentences, as by the pouring out of a heart’s love that makes them feel that we would save them, that we would bless them, that we would, because we belong to them, regard them as brethren, and play a brother’s part, and lay ourselves out to benefit them.

Now, as it should be in the under-shepherds, so is it in that Great Shepherd of the sheep.

He abounds in tenderness, and though He has every other quality to make up a perfect high priest, though He is complete, and in nothing lacking, yet if I must mention one thing in which he far outshines us all, but in which we should all try to imitate him, it would be in His tender sympathy to those who are ignorant and out of the way, and to all those who are suffering and sorely distressed.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, “The Suffering Saviour’s Sympathy,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, Vol. 33 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1887), 33: 409–410.

“Love is one grand secret of successful training” by J.C. Ryle

“Train up your child with all tenderness, affection, and patience. I do not mean that you are to spoil him, but I do mean that you should let him see that you love him.

Love should be the silver thread that runs through all your conduct. Kindness, gentleness, long-suffering, forbearance, patience, sympathy, a willingness to enter into childish troubles, a readiness to take part in childish joys,—these are the cords by which a child may be led most easily,—these are the clues you must follow if you would find the way to his heart.

Few are to be found, even among grown-up people, who are not more easy to draw than to drive. There is that in all our minds which rises in arms against compulsion; we set up our backs and stiffen our necks at the very idea of a forced obedience.

We are like young horses in the hand of a breaker: handle them kindly, and make much of them, and by and by you may guide them with thread; use them roughly and violently, and it will be many a month before you get the mastery of them at all.

Now children’s minds are cast in much the same mould as our own. Sternness and severity of manner chill them and throw them back. It shuts up their hearts, and you will weary yourself to find the door.

But let them only see that you have an affectionate feeling towards them,—that you are really desirous to make them happy, and do them good,—that if you punish them, it is intended for their profit, and that you would give your heart’s blood to nourish their souls.

Let them see this, I say, and they will soon be all your own. But they must be wooed with kindness, if their attention is ever to be won.

And surely reason itself might teach us this lesson. Children are weak and tender creatures, and, as such, they need patient and considerate treatment.

We must handle them delicately, like frail machines, lest by rough fingering we do more harm than good. They are like young plants, and need gentle watering,—often, but little at a time.

We must not expect all things at once. We must remember what children are, and teach them as they are able to bear.

Their minds are like a lump of metal—not to be forged and made useful at once, but only by a succession of little blows. Their understandings are like narrow-necked vessels: we must pour in the wine of knowledge gradually, or much of it will be spilled and lost.

‘Line upon line, and precept upon precept, here a little and there a little,’ must be our rule. The whetstone does its work slowly, but frequent rubbing will bring the scythe to a fine edge.

Truly there is need of patience in training a child, but without it nothing can be done.

Nothing will compensate for the absence of this tenderness and love. A minister may speak the truth as it is in Jesus, clearly, forcibly, unanswerably; but if he does not speak it in love, few souls will be won.

Just so you must set before your children their duty,—command, threaten, punish, reason,—but if affection be wanting in your treatment, your labour will be all in vain.

Love is one grand secret of successful training. Anger and harshness may frighten, but they will not persuade the child that you are right; and if he sees you often out of temper, you will soon cease to have his respect. A father who speaks to his son as Saul did to Jonathan (1 Sam. 20:30), need not expect to retain his influence over that son’s mind.

Try hard to keep up a hold on your child’s affections. It is a dangerous thing to make your children afraid of you.

Anything is almost better than reserve and constraint between your child and yourself; and this will come in with fear. Fear puts an end to openness of manner;—fear leads to concealment;—fear sows the seed of much hypocrisy, and leads to many a lie.

There is a mine of truth in the Apostle’s words to the Colossians:’“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged’ (Col. 3:21).

Let not the advice it contains be overlooked.”

–J.C. Ryle, The Upper Room (London: William Hunt and Company, 1888), 285–287.

“A truly illuminated man” by John Newton

“A man, truly illuminated, will no more despise others, than Bartimeus, after his own eyes were opened, would take a stick, and beat every blind man he met.”

–John Newton, The Works of John Newton, Volume 1 (London: Hamilton, Adams & Co., 1824), 105. As quoted in Tony Reinke, Newton on the Christian Life: To Live Is Christ (Wheaton: Crossway, 2015), 16.

“Tenderness of heart” by Richard Sibbes

“Tenderness of heart is wrought by an apprehension of tenderness and love in Christ. A soft heart is made soft by the blood of Christ.

Many say, that an adamant cannot be melted with fire, but by blood. I cannot tell whether this be true or no; but I am sure nothing will melt the hard heart of man but the blood of Christ, the passion of our blessed Saviour.

When a man considers of the love that God hath shewed him in sending of His Son, and doing such great things as He hath done, in giving of Christ to satisfy His justice, in setting us free from hell, Satan and death: the consideration of this, with the persuasion that we have interest in the same, melts the heart, and makes it become tender.

And this must needs be so, because that with the preaching of the gospel unto broken-hearted sinners cast down, there always goes the Spirit of God, which works an application of the gospel.

Christ is the first gift to the Church. When God hath given Christ, then comes the Spirit, and works in the heart a gracious acceptance of mercy offered.

The Spirit works an assurance of the love and mercy of God. Now love and mercy felt, work upon the tender heart a reflective love to God again.

What, hath the great God of heaven and earth sent Christ into the world for me?

Humbled Himself to the death of the cross for me?

And hath He let angels alone, and left many thousands in the world, to choose me?

And hath He sent His ministers to reveal unto me this assurance of the love and mercy of God?

This consideration cannot but work love to God again. For love is a kind of fire which melts the heart.

So that when our souls are persuaded that God loves us from everlasting, then we reflect our love to Him again. And then our heart says to God, ‘Speak, Lord; what wilt Thou have me to do?’

The soul is pliable for doing, for suffering, for anything God will have it. Then, ‘Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth,’ 1 Sam. 3:9.

And when the heart is thus wrought upon, and made tender by the Spirit, then afterward in the proceeding of our lives, many things will work tenderness: as the works of God, His judgments, the word and sacraments, when they are made effectual by the Spirit of God, work tenderness.

The promises of God also make the heart tender, as Rom. 12:1, ‘I beseech you, brethren, by the mercies of God, offer up your souls and bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God.’

There is no such like argument to persuade men to tenderness of heart, as to propound the love and mercy of God.”

–Richard Sibbes, “Josiah’s Reformation,” in The Complete Works of Richard Sibbes (ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart; vol. 7; Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; W. Robertson, 1863), 6: 33-34.