2 Corinthians 4:1-6
Here are some marks of an authentic ministry. There are things you do not do:
- You do not lose heart (1): You recognise that you’re in this ministry because of God’s calling. It’s a privilege you do not deserve. He got you into this and He will help you in it and through it. He will enable you to finish strong if you keep looking to Him. Since God has so generously let us in on what he is doing, we’re not about to throw up our hands and walk off the job just because we run into occasional hard times. The Message. You might have a lot of rubbish tipped over you, like Paul did, but you focus on God and don’t give up. After all, He’s the One who gives genuine success and changes lives (6). Paul recognised that he was a Christian because of a sovereign work of God. What the Lord had done for him He could also do for others.
- You do not go down the way of trickery, dishonesty and manipulation (2a): like Nathanael, you will be without guile (John 1:47).You are straightforward and easy to deal with, not slippery as an eel (or serpent?!) You refuse to get sucked into politics and power struggles. Such things should not have any place in genuine Christian lives and churches. You will not try to twist arms and resort to under hand tactics. You will pray and trust God to work things out. You’re not in it for yourself or to climb any perceived career ladder. You know that the highest position in the kingdom of God is that of a ‘servant’ (5). We refuse to wear masks and play games, We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. The Message.
- You do not tinker under the bonnet of truth in order to change things, however subtly (2b). You know it is not your job to dilute the Scriptures to taste or change them in any way. What they say may prove unpopular, but you will stick to the script handed to you like superglue. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. The Message.
- You do not use the pulpit to glorify yourself (5). This is not about you. It never has been; never will be.
There are some things you do do:
- You clearly and plainly state the truth (2c): In your ministry you aim for utter clarity. You are not a philosopher using words that obscure, like opaque glass. Your words are like freshly cleaned windows. The light shines through them.
- You preach Jesus Christ as Lord (5): At every opportunity you lift up His Name, and not your own. Remember, our Message is not about ourselves, we’re proclaiming Jesus Christ, the Master. All we are is messengers, errand runners from Jesus for you. The Message.
- You live as a servant (5b), and not as some petty autocratic tyrant, lording it over others in what is, after all, Christ’s church.
- You minister always in the sight of God (2c). You know that you are completely under scrutiny and you will, ultimately, be held accountable.
- You live with a sense of reality (3, 4). It’s tough out there on the ‘mission field’. You acknowledge the fact. This is a fallen world, and the devil has successfully blindfolded people so that they cannot see the wonder and beauty of Jesus; they are unable to see who He is or why He came into the world. They’re stone-blind to the dayspring brightness of the Message that shines with Christ, who gives us the best picture of God we’ll ever get. The Message. So you know you will meet resistance to your preaching. There will be both antagonism and apathy. There will be disappointment and discouraging times. But, in it all…
- You serve with the understanding that God is real, and He can turn the light on in any heart (6; see also Genesis 1:1-3 and 2 Cor.5:17). He can and He does. We see it happening everywhere: sheer miracles of grace; people saying, ‘I can’t explain it, but whereas once I was blind, now I see.’ If someone like Saul of Tarsus could be enlightened, it could happen to anyone.
Prayer: Thank you Lord that all opportunities for ministry come from you; let all the glory go to you.