Today’s Scripture: Because for the work of Christ he was nigh unto death, not regarding his life, to supply your lack of service toward me. Philippians 2:30

Let me ask you a question. Is it possible to work too hard for Christ? At first, we say, “No, that’s impossible,” but I’m actually going to surprise you by giving you a different answer. I believe the answer is “yes.”

Henry Martyn, a famous British missionary to India and Persia, once said, “Now let me burn out for God!”1 He died six years later at the age of 31. He threw himself into translation work in India and he literally worked himself to death.

David Brainerd died when he was 29. He was an American missionary to the Native Americans. I am not criticizing either of these men. They did a lot of amazing things in a short time. All I am saying is that David Brainerd would go day after day on horseback in rain, cold, and snow. He’d sleep outside in the forest with no shelter, and sometimes he would fast to the point where his already weak and sickly body was just destroyed. He finally took a break, went to the house of Jonathan Edwards and died there.

Now again, I am not criticizing them. I recommend reading about their inspiring lives. However, I believe that if they had been more careful not to burn out, they would have had another two, three, or maybe four decades of that amazing service to Christ.

I am not criticizing zeal or working hard, but I am saying there can be a limit. Christ took time to get away and pray. When comparing burning out with rusting out, always err on the side of burning out. Rusting out is not a good situation. Most churches do not have a lot of Christians willing to work. There is a balance. If you are working yourself to death, take a break so you can serve God longer. If you are not working hard for God, start today and get involved.

Devotional by Jim Scudder Jr.