Marks of Commendable Christian Ministry, part 1
In this passage, Paul tells us that if you want to enjoy all the blessings of serving God, you have to also be ready to experience all the hardships that may be involved. Service for God is filled with benefits but also fraught with difficulties. Those who serve God have to be willing to take the bad with the good. Jesus assured us that, if we want to follow him, it’s going to cost us our lives—“deny yourself, take up your cross, and follow me.” The cost of following Christ can be very high, but of course the blessings are also considerable.
The main idea in today’s passage is that those who serve God must persevere under pressure. It’s easy to serve God when everyone is complementary and positive. But those who serve God often experience opposition, criticism, and hostility. Most people who serve God experience both blessings and the hardships. So we have to be able to endure and continue on serving God no matter what it costs us.
.3-4 Paul uses the word “ministry” and “ministers” here, but he’s just talking about serving God. In fact, the word for ministry is διακονία—it just means “service.” The word refers to just about any kind of work or service for the Lord.
Paul’s ministry was different from ours. None of us is an apostle; none of us has the responsibilities that Paul did. However, each of us should be engaged in serving God and serving God’s people; we should be ministers. We should not be bystanders, not mere spectators sitting on the sidelines. We should be directly engaged in serving God in some way.
If we are engaged in Christian ministry, how should we do it?
This passage tells us how to serve God and others in the context of the church. The main point is that we should expect both blessings and hardships in ministry. We enjoy the blessings and we don’t allow the hardships to stop us.
Notice the language of vs. 4: “in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God.” Let’s notice some marks of commendable Christian ministry.