Woe is Me – Wayne Coats

Wayne Coats

The inspired word of God declares that “God is love” (1 John 4:8). No person can deny this great characteristic of our heavenly Father. However, it is a tragic error to emphasize this feature and overlook or deny that Jehovah is also a God of terror. The same book which informs us that God is love, also declares, “knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade man” (2 Cor. 5:11). There are those who declare that God is such a God of love that he cannot punish the disobedient and transgressors.

When God says woe, he means what he says. Over sixty times in the Old Testament, Jehovah pronounced a woe upon individuals and groups. The New Testament uses the term some 27 times. Our blessed Lord very carefully pronounced a woe upon the religious fanatics of his day.

The inspired Paul declared, “For thou I preach the Gospel, I have nothing to glory of; for necessity is laid upon me; yea woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel” (1 Cor. 9:16 emph. WC). Paul did not say, “woe is me.” It is a sad mistake to think that Paul was ever in the throes of depression and woe. He did not say “woe is me” as some people would say it. He said, “woe is unto me if I preach not the Gospel.” I think of the great apostle as a servant of Jesus Christ who evermore rejoiced and taught the brethren to rejoice.

Paul wrote the book of Philippians. Many think the keynote of the book is joy and rejoice. Consider a few passages which convey the idea of joy. Paul declared, “Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy” (Phil. 1:4). Even in bonds and imprisonment the apostle would say that “the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel” (1:12). With Paul, “Christ is preached: and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice” (1:18).

Paul would write of “the joy of faith” (1:25). He desired to “rejoice in the day of Christ” (2:16). Paul was such a marvelous Christian that he could say, “I joy and rejoice with you all (2:17).“For the same cause also do you joy and rejoice with me” (2:18). “I sent him therefore the more carefully, that, when ye see him again (Epaphroditus), ye may rejoice and that I may be the less sorrowful” (2:25,28).“Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord”(3:1). “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh” (3:3). “Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved” (4:1). “Rejoice in the Lord: and again I say rejoice” (4:4). But I rejoiced in the Lord greatly, that now at the last, your care of me hath flourished again; wherein ye were also careful, but ye lacked opportunity” (4:10).

From the many passages of Scripture in the book of Philippians, we can understand how the apostle Paul could rejoice and teach his brethren to rejoice and be happy. Paul was not of that number who constantly declared, “woe is me.”

A number of us are aware of a great falling away. The church does not have that zeal and great desire that it had in days gone by. So many of the brethren have learned to retire with the statement, “woe is me, if I preach.”

Some of us can recall when preachers were motivated to preach in order to save the lost. They desired to sacrifice in order to see that the lost heard the precious truth. Preachers could and would say, “woe is me if I preach not the gospel.” Great crowds would go out to hear the word of God preached.

The apostle was not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ. He believed that it was the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believed it (Rom. 1:16). The apostle considered himself a debtor to all, and no person could pay that debt (Rom. 1:14-15).

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Author: Editor

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