Spurgeon wrote something to the effect that it is better to be a lean bird in the woods than a fat bird in a cage. Today’s young minister is tempted to feather his next in a comfortable parish with plenty of security. A caged eagle is a sad sight but sadder still is a caged preacher. Gypsy Smith used to say, “I was born in a field; don’t put me in a flowerpot!”
Sifting and Strengthening
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Luke 22:31, 32
Here we have the Triangle of Spiritual Conflict: “Satan-you-I.” Satan would sift us, but we have an Advocate. The devil asked God for permission to try Job. Here it is Simon Peter he puts through the sifter. And never have more saints been in his hands than today. But he can go only so far. There is one praying for us who defeated Satan, who came to destroy the works of the devil. The Adversary is not in the first two chapters of the Bible, nor is he in the last two. Thank God for a Book that ends with devil out of business!
But he is very much in business now in the mighty tug-of-war for the souls of men. It is Christ or Antichrist and we are the prize. Peter’s faith was eclipsed but not extinct. And when he was converted, he certainly strengthened the brethren and fed the sheep-and does so to this day.
Sometimes we must go through the Sifter before we are of much use for Strengthening.