Christian Ethics 2022

Ethics of the Heart - Watch Yourself!

May 16, 2023 9:55:26 AM / by Stephen Davey

This General Session was recorded live at the Shepherds 360 Church Leaders Conference in Cary, NC on October 17, 2022. For information about the next conference, please visit




This transcript was created by an automatic transcript generator, and may contain minor errors and mistakes compared to the original recording as a result.


Well, I want to welcome you to this conference and I do pray that the Lord will encourage you and equip you as you serve him. There are a lot of people that make this conference happen a lot of volunteers and staff and the choir and orchestra that lead us why don't we give them a hand of thanks for their hard work?


At the end of World War Two, a plane carrying 24 members of the US military crashed in the New Guinea jungle. The dense jungle, only three survived. They were badly hurt, soon suffering from gangrene and starvation.


Stranded Deep in this jungle Valley known to hold within it cannibal tribes who are hostile, a daring a rescue attempt would need to be made, which did indeed succeed.


The army attached a special battalion of 66 men trained as a parachute unit. And their battalion leader was told to recruit 10 men from this battalion including two medics to parachute into that dense jungle and guide those survivors out.


It was a dangerous assignment when the Lieutenant Colonel stood before these men and told them what had happened. He informed them that he needed 10 volunteers. And then he gave them a rather honest portrayal of what they were going to encounter. He said, first of all, you'll be jumping into an area that is marked on our maps with the word unknown, uncharted territory.


Secondly, he told them the jungle was so thick that it was the worst possible drop zone, they might not get past the trees. Third, if they survived the jump of the tribes who lived in that valley would prove hostile and life threatening.


When he finished, he paused and then asked for 10 volunteers. And all 66 Men stepped forward. But how's that for recruiting strategy?


Your mission is going to be difficult. The natives will be hostile to your message, you're not going to get out unscathed. There are people however, in that valley, dying, and they need rescuing.


Well, that happens to be the training manual for 72 men who've just been appointed to give their lives for the sake of the gospel. Before they take off for the jungle, so to speak, the Lord gives them a training session, how to live, how to serve in a hostile world, an unethical, deceived, self-centered world.


So if you take your Bibles I want to go to that training session. It's in Luke's gospel, chapter 10.


As you turn there, I believe the church needs to begin recruiting along these lines. So this is an honest portrayal of what it means to follow Christ, to serve in the valley of danger and difficulty and to serve faithfully.


What the Lord has to say in these next verses is packed with a principles that we can easily apply. They're needed today I believe, like never before.


So let's go to verse one. After this, the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them on ahead of him to go into every town and place where he himself was about to go. Now by this time in the Lord's ministry. He had several hundred close followers.


First Corinthians 15:6 informs us of this––the apostle Paul called them brothers, Jesus appeared to these men after his resurrection. When the church was created in Jerusalem, we're told in Acts chapter one and verse 15, that 120 Men were working closely with the apostles. We’re not given any biographies, by the way of these early church pioneers, who were the first ones, so to speak, to parachute in.


The 72 men, in addition to the 12 are to this day, the 72 men anonymous, which is another way of saying there are no big names here.


No best-selling authors, just normal people.


Where they come from, we don't know. Well, among the number I think would have been men who had been healed, blind men now seeing, lepers now healed.


Because they've been, you know, healed by this troubling Rabbi, the religious world wasn't about to allow them to fully reenter Jewish society, or even be employed.


I believe they were much like the men that gathered around David, as he hid out in the cave of Adullam.


Now we are told in verse one that the Lord sends them out two by two, this would have provided encouragement, but it also fulfilled the Old Testament requirement of two witnesses needed to provide valid testimony.


They're testifying that the gospel of Christ is the truth, nothing but the truth. That's the whole truth. Their mission is not haphazard, though I want you to notice the key word in verse one––the Lord “appointed” them. This word appointed means to be literally appointed to an office to be deputized. To be literally placed in that place of service. I want to put this in a principle form for us. It holds true for us today, here it is, God has appointed a place for you and you for a place.


After this, the Lord appointed 72 others and sent them on ahead. Jesus is not just throwing lives around, he's not just tossing them, you know, haphazardly to the wind, now he is divinely appointing them for that place. And he has prepared that place for them.


And the more you and I recognize this in our own ministry, that it's not subject to random circumstances or random events, the more we come to understand that we're where we are right now, is not an accident. It's an assignment from God. That doesn't make it easy.


That doesn't make it all smooth. But it does change our perspective as we parachute down into that valley.


There's another principle that emerges here. Let me put it this way, there will always be more to do than you can accomplish. Verse Two is well known to us where Jesus says the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few.


That's a nice way of saying to these men. Look, what you're about to get involved in is going to quickly turn into more than you can handle on your own. In fact, you're not going to be able to finish it.


It's bigger than you are. Evidently being out of breath is the will of God.


So to put it in practical terminology, you're always going to be in need of more help. More volunteers, more partners financially, physically.


I have yet to hear of a church that has a waiting list for volunteers.


People standing in line to teach three year old Sunday school classes just begging for an opportunity to be led at it––that's a dream and you wake up.


It doesn't take long to realize there's more to do than you can do by yourself. That doesn't mean we start praying for an easier roll we can handle.


We do start praying. But notice the prayer request. Again, the last part our verse is to pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest. To send out laborers into His harvest, your number one prayer request is for help.


By the way, don't overlook the fact that we're given this unique title for the Lor—the only time in the gospels he's called here the Lord of the harvest—which is encouraging to them on their first assignment. That means he's in charge of the entire operation. The Lord is actually freeing the 72 men from the myth of ministry success.


See, if he's the Lord of the harvest, that means he's in charge of the harvest. That means he determines the timing of the harvest. That means he determines the size of the harvest, how much fruit there will be, or will not be, we just enter it. We just parachute in and get to work.


And he will send us help in his time. As Hudson Taylor used to say, when you obey God, the responsibility rests with him.


Here's another principle from this training session. Number three: obedience to Christ will not automatically make your ministry comfortable. The Lord says here in verse three, “Behold, I am sending you out as lambs in the midst of wolves.” Wait, Lord, would you mind repeating that last statement? You’re lambs in the midst of wolves, you're parachuting down and wolves are waiting?


Did you notice that Jesus does not say I'm sending you out as sheep among wolves. I mean, that would be bad enough, but at least grown sheep can run. In fact, all they have to do is outrun some other sheep.


Jesus says you're gonna be like little lambs, little lambs can't run fast if at all. You're basically helpless.

On your own. Jesus is warning them of severe opposition. So strapping on that parachute was as good as signing their own death warrant.


But the most important words that I would pull out of this phrase that Jesus wanted them to hear wasn't necessarily the lambs and wolves. Although I'm sure they heard those words. The most important words in the text, I think, are the first four words in English, “I am sending you” as the lambs among wolves.


Behold, look, “I am sending you.” I'm the one sending you.


So if you live or die, it will be by my appointment, the Lord is saying, because I sent you, nobody can stop you without my permission.


When I read this, I can't help but consider the fact that Jesus will go before them eventually and show them what it means to be a lamb surrounded by wolves who will slaughter him? By divine appointment.


He's giving them here an honest look at what it means to serve him. With all the ethical issues that surround us, we're swimming in it.


There's no doubt that people in your church or ministry are going to get into trouble minding their own business and doing a good job. They're going to get into trouble because people know they're Christians. That alone will be terribly irritating.


You're gonna get into trouble because you won't approve the moral narratives of your culture.


I think of the second century where bisexuality was the norm. To state that you were heterosexual was considered by the elite prudish. You were arrogant to say that. Why would you make that choice?


We're gonna get into trouble. And all we're doing is holding to what we believe to be the truth.


We're just trying to be helpful. Reminds me of a pastor who tried to be helpful. I was sent this rather humorous news clip a few months ago from someone in our church family.


The news item has the title just trying to help.


A pastor was walking down the street when he noticed a small boy trying as hard as he could, standing on his tiptoes across the street to reach the doorbell from where the pastor was walking. And the pastor walked over and placed his hand kindly on the boy's shoulder and said, “Here's Son, let me help you.” And he leaned over and he gave the doorbell a solid ring, and then looked down at the boy and said, “Now what young man?” and the boy said, “now we run.”


How many of you have played ring and run as a child, and now you're in the ministry.


Here's another principle. We want to be honest about the ministry we're facing. Number four, the Lord is as interested in developing your faith as he is in you delivering his word.


Notice the traveling instructions here in verse four now carry, no money back, no knapsack, no sandals and greet no one on the road. Now that sounds unkind, “greet, no one on the road,”––don't smile sounds like? Well, the culture of greeting and the Lord's Day, you know, involved more than a handshake. It turned into an event. It typically involved a meal, which would lead to conversations and extended introductions to extended family members. It could involve hours, it could involve days. We're given an example of it in Judges 19.


What Jesus is saying here is don't get all tied up in the extended customs of the day, be polite, but press on.


There is this element here of urgency and, and total dependency. Notice again, don't carry your money bag––that’a your wallet, your knapsack, don't even take it. Carry on.


Don't more than likely take an extra pair of sandals that you would have packed away. This is not about, you know, not having enough time to pack. This is not about trying to look poor, and you know, needy.


This is nothing of that. This is more than delivering the gospel. This is developing disciples here. They had no money, which means they can't buy food.


They're not carrying water.


They have no lodging. See, Jesus wants every meal to be a minor miracle.


He wants every drink of water to be provision. Wow, look what God gave me.


See, this is a developmental exercise. He's developing his disciples, building into them this kind of faith that will help them endure.


But they're going to develop that sense of what Hudson Taylor––again I refer to him––but he called it a God-consciousness.


He said it is a conscious awareness that God was consciously aware of him. This is what he's doing in their lives, developing in them a conscious awareness that God was consciously aware of them.


In fact on one occasion, Hudson was visiting the States and was expected in New York to preach.


He was taken to the train station by the pastor, where he had been for a couple of days. And the pastor planned on surprising Hudson with a ticket.


Well, they got to the train station and he asked Hudson––he knew he hadn't––but he asked him if he'd bought his ticket yet and to his surprise, Hudson said that he didn't have the money to purchase the ticket.


And after that the pastor produced the gift and said, “Wait, if I had not purchased this ticket for you yesterday, you would not have made it to New York to speak today. But you still came to the train station. How did you know what would happen?”


And Hudson Taylor said, “I didn't know. But my father knew.”


See, when you're serving the Lord, and I'm right there with you, it's so easy to become more interested in what God is doing through you, and what God is doing in you and even for you, that we miss it.


This is Paul's challenge to Timothy to watch his own heart. First Timothy 4:16. Keep a close watch on yourself and your teaching. By doing so, you will save both yourself and your hearers see, it's one thing to battle, you know those ethical dilemmas in our world and lose that battle in our heart.


To try to save the world, and lose ourselves. See this training is providing protection for these disciples. In fact, notice verse five. He says this, “whatever house you enter, first, say peace be to this house. If a son of peace is there, your peace will rest upon him. But if not, it will return to you. Remain in the same house eating and drinking what they provide. For the laborer deserves his wages. You deserve that meal, you're working for it. But do not go from house to house. In other words, don't arrive in a village and go from house to house until you find a nice one.


Don't move from one house to another until you get a better offer. Take the first household that offers you lodging, and then don't try to climb the ladder.


Now this principle helped the disciples avoid a lot of controversy. Just imagine people in the village would begin naturally competing, you know with each other. After all, these men are soon discovered to be empowered to heal, to represent God to perform miracles. Even imagine a poor farming family who followed God, seeing immediately the reality of these disciples in their message and inviting them to stay in their little home. Soon their ministry takes off maybe they heal the mayor's child, and the mayor invites them to move into their estate. And you think is God good or why?


Here's another similar principle that I want to toss in at this moment. Don't forget that people are to be served not used.


The Lord knew what was going to happen he knew this would happen.


So he's training them that you don't play for the perks.


Be careful. Don't use people. Serve them.


Notice verse eight. Whenever you enter a town and they receive you, eat what is set before you––I mean how practical can the Lord be? Eat what they offer you––that is not an easy verse two obey. Wherever you land, whatever they're serving, eat what they're cooking. I mean, there's one thing if they're, you know, serving mashed potatoes and roast beef and peach cobbler. That's my kind of house. I'm gonna hang out there. But what if you're traveling up north?


Or you've had that experience?


And they don't understand that iced tea is supposed to be sweet.


It's in the Bible somewhere.


What if you get there and they're cooking liver and onions and lima beans. That is not in the Bible. Until after the fall.


Eat what is set before you.


Growing up in our missionary home, we would spend time each summer visiting churches and individuals who supported us


And my mother taught us four boys a poem. And as we arrived at the home, we were going to have a meal and invariably she would turn around and say, “now boys remember where he leads me, I will follow what he feeds me, I will swallow.”


I used to hate that poem.


But she sounded like Jesus here.


And here's the point in the training session: there are a lot of people who think the Lord is going to put them in a ministry spot, location, appointment, where it's going to be an extension of life as they knew it.


They're going to be able to live like they lived, eat when they ate, rest, when they typically rest. Go where they want to go.


Now, you're going to be stretched right in every way possible. Get ready. It's different in the valley.


Principle number six, make sure you reflect any applause back to God.


Verse nine, heal the sick and say to them, the kingdom of God has come near you. In other words, these miracles indicate that the king is near. The fullness of the kingdom is still future but it's nearer than ever. They are commissioned representatives of the King and His coming Kingdom, so you can imagine the excitement in some of these villages, the blind now see, the lame walk, paralyzed are now walking around and on and on. The village leaders want to meet them.


The politically powerful want to spend time with him. The crowds want to see them, they're the greatest thing that ever walked into their village.


Notice carefully what the 72 are to say while they are healing. The idea why you're doing what you're doing. Make sure you're saying the kingdom is near.


In other words, it isn't about us. This is a taste of the coming Kingdom.


This is about our King.


Now at this point in their training session, these 72 men would have been excited I think, challenged wide-eyed. Man, imagine being empowered to do this.


But then we arrive at that little conjunction that begins to change the training session. You can circle that little word “but” at the beginning of verse 10. “But”


I have read, by the way that at the meetings of the United Nations the translators are especially trained to pay close attention to anything that follows the word, but because that can change everything.


And I'm sure the disciples are paying attention. Jesus says to them in verse 10, but whenever you enter a town, and they do not receive you, and I stopped for a moment. If I had been one of these men, I would have said, how can that be possible?


We're performing miracles. We're healing, we're emptying the emergency rooms, the cancer wards, the lame are walking the blind can now see this is the near fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy here. We're riding this wave, how could it be possible that someone doesn't want us?


That's right. Get ready for it.


You're going to enter a town and they will not receive you. So here's the next principle. But before we go any further, number seven, there will be times when your ministry will not be appreciated, or desired, especially by a hostile world.


It's not just possible. Jesus said it's predictable. So expect it.


Get ready for it. There are going to be times when there's not a friendly face to be seen. When doors remain shut when your needs go unmet.


When you end up rejected or maligned. No home is open to you. No matter what you say or do even if it's miraculous.


And maybe you've had the thought I share how if I could just you know, pull off something here, miraculous, it wouldn't matter if their eyes are blinded by the god of this world and the spirit is not in the process of opening them, they won't care. And that's because our message is convicting, troubling. The gospel is a message of salvation and grace, but also sin and guilt.


The announcement of a king and a kingdom is a demand to surrender their own little kingdoms to him. Nobody wants to surrender anything.


Which is why as AW Tozer put it so well, the gospel not only provides an invitation, it delivers an ultimatum. And here it is, verse 10. But whenever you enter a town and they do not receive you go into its streets and say, even the dust of your town that clings to our feet, we wipe off against you.


This is an Old Testament, prophetic declaration of judgment because of defiance against the messengers of God. And at this point in the narrative, this is predominantly Israelite towns and villages.


Jesus goes on to say in verse 12, “I tell you, it will be more bearable on that day for Sodom than for that town––a reference to that day as a reference to the final judgment of the unbelieving world, described in Revelation chapter 20.


Everybody knew about Sodom.


A city given over to homosexuality. The apostle Peter referred to it as a city filled with defiling passion. Second Peter 210, they did face a unique judgment of fire and brimstone. In fact, one of our Shepherds seminary professors was found digging up bucket loads of sulfur balls, the size of golf balls, still to this day, flammable.


But this would have been a shocking declaration. Let me read it again, I tell you, it would be more bearable on that day for Sodom, than for that town.


As far as God is concerned, the sins of sexual immorality aren't going to receive the greater judgment.


The greater judgment is reserved for those who have the greater light, the greater Revelation, the greater exposure to the gospel. Sounds like I'm talking about my country, the greater judgment because of the greatest light given and they will not repent. Jesus says here in verse 13, notice, Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida!


Forif the mighty works done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago sitting in sackcloth and ashes. It'll be more bearable in the judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.


Keep in mind, the perspective here is one of sadness.


The word Woe, in verse 13, is a word that conveys a warning. But if you heard the tone of Jesus saying this word, it would have been sorrowful.


Woe is a lamenting sorrowful warning that we're not yelling at people.


We're warning them.


But again, you have a shocking comparison.


The people of Israel knew Sidon was the wicked hometown of Jezebel.


They knew the city of Tyre had worshipped Molech and idols of brass and bronze made out of materials that would get red hot with an open belly into which they would stoke fires and people would place their babies to be burned.


So get the picture. Sodom and Sidon and Tyre are going to get off easier in the final judgment than these cities where the 72 disciples preach and are rejected.


Then Jesus has a special warning to Capernaum in verse 15. And you Capernaum will you be exalted to heaven? You shall be brought down to Hades. Capernaum had been the home base for the Lord. He preached there, he had healed the sick there, this was the hometown of Peter and Andrew


Capernaum should have a head start into the kingdom.


But instead they're gonna have a head start into hell as it were.


There's another principle that emerges here that's worthy of thought. Number eight, remember that rejection is not personal. It is ultimately spiritual.


Jesus says here in verse 16, the one who hears you hears me and the one who rejects you rejects me, and the one who rejects me rejects my father who sent me.


Rejection isn't to be taken personally, even though we feel it personally.


And it never feels good.


Jesus is telling them that the cities and villages are rejecting the King’s messengers, because they are ultimately rejecting the king.


We have in our church family now a diplomat from South Korea, assigned here to an embassy, downtown Raleigh, our capital city. For a few years, I met her during our new member interviews, which I have with all of our prospects. And she told me that how our country treats her is tantamount to how our country views her country.


That's the idea here.


The village that rejects the diplomats of the king rejects the king, and his country, his kingdom.


By the way, this is a subtle warning to the 72 disciples that rejection of their message doesn't mean that they're supposed to go and change their message.


They aren't to tailor their message to their audience or tone it down to make it a little more comfortable, or appealing. We know our message is becoming more and more unwanted, more offensive, more repulsive. You see, Jesus is not training his disciples to be appreciated. He's training them here to be rejected.


Now that they're sent out, following verse 16, a period of time elapses, we're not told how long, more than likely several weeks or so they all returned at the same time, which indicates the Lord gave them a day to return, the same date. And in spite of everything that happened, good and bad, we're told here they all returned, excited. Verse 17 says, “The 72 returned with joy saying, Lord, even the demons are subject to us, in your name.” Out of everything that happened, this was the most exciting and with childlike enthusiasm, reporting, even the demons obeyed us. That's like an excited child telling you, I went to the beach and I even saw some dolphins, or we went camping and we even saw a bear. That's the idea. Oh, Lord, we experienced some amazing things. But even the demons are subject to us. And you might expect the Lord to say well, way to go.


That must have been thrilling.


Tell me about it.


No, what he does instead is effectively deliver another principle here. It is number nine.


When ministry focuses on accomplishments, pride is hovering dangerously nearby.


He said to them in verse 18, I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.


By the way, don't miss the fact that he reveals his pre-existence.


He was there when Satan fell. So what he's essentially saying is you men saw a few demons depart.


I saw their leader defeated in that uprising. I personally watched Satan fall like a streak of lightning in a darkened sky.


And he fell because of his pride, as if to say, don't fall into that same trap.


As accomplished as you are, as fruitful as you are, as effective as you are, be careful.


Watch your heart and your teaching.


JC Ryle put this warning into his notes, which I've enjoyed reading. He wrote this back in 1879. We all longed to see Satan's kingdom pulled down and souls converted to God.


The desires were good. Let us, however, never be forgetting that the time of success is a time of danger.


Most of Christ's laborers in the harvest field have as much success as their souls can handle.


There are few Christians who can carry a full cup with a steady hand.


In the midst of our triumphs, let us cry earnestly Lord, clothe us with humility.


That leads me to one final principle from this training session. Number 10. Your joyful spirit must not depend on ministry execution, but on your final destination. He says here in verse 20, “Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you. But rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”


Not how perfectly your ministry seems to be going right now. Or how much you seem to be accomplishing. But simply this: You have been enrolled in the registry of heaven.


God does not have an eraser.


We sang of His grace, he writes your name in permanent marker.


Just don't get so caught up with what he's doing through you and in you on earth that you forget your future home.


So as you strap on your parachute and you prepare to go back into that valley, you begin with an understanding that you are on assignment, and your assignment by the way, will not last forever. In God’s goodness, it won't last forever.


But you will.


You will your king and his kingdom of which you are a part will last forever.


Will you pray with me?


“Thank you, Lord Jesus, for justifying us by your grace of which we have sung and rehearsed. Not only saving us but appointing us to serve you as ambassadors in that embassy post where you have placed us. Thank you for the reminders of our insufficiency and your sufficiency, the lack of our merit and the expansive mercy of your nature because of Christ.


So Father, we thank you for this gathering. What a treat to be able to sing together, pray together, read Scripture together worship together.


I pray that it would only buoy the spirits of every laborer, every believer, being reminded that we belong to you our king.


And we long for that coming Kingdom where we will serve you with perfect holiness, perfected minds and hearts. In the meantime, our ministry now is a prelude to that future kingdom. Enable us as we watch our hearts and our teaching. For your glory’s sake, we pray in Jesus name. And everyone said amen.

Topics: Christian Ethics, Ethics in Christian Ministry

Stephen Davey

Written by Stephen Davey

Stephen Davey is the host pastor of the Shepherds 360 Church Leaders Conference. He serves as the Pastor/Teacher at The Shepherd's Church as well as president of Shepherds Theological Seminary. In addition, Stephen is heard through the international broadcast ministry of Wisdom for the Heart. He will be speaking at the upcoming Shepherds 360 Conference on the theme of Differences.

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