July 22, 2014
THE GEORGIA CAPITOL DEVOTIONAL - 22 July 2014
The Bible tells us that every member of the body of Christ is a minister (Eph 4:11-16). Every believer has a calling and gifting to edify fellow Christians to maturity in the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor 12). Discounting any sort of separation between church and state (in the sense that every Christian has solemn obligations to the state and the officials who govern our nation and states), Romans 13:4 tells us, every governing official “is a minster of God.”
Every believer in the Lord Jesus is a minister, which results in both joy and discouragement. Therefore, we are admonished “do not lose heart” (2 Cor 4:1, 16). If we “do not lose heart,” certainly each of us could confess such temptation. What might cause us to lost heart? The Apostle Paul shared some things that can cause discouragement, in addition to providing reasons for encouragement.
Relational tensions might cause one to lose heart. The Apostle Paul sacrificed much for other people, yet several had allegiance to someone else. Certain individuals claimed that Paul was bold and brash; others said he did not accomplish what he promised; and, others said he made requests for personal “projects” and had to work a second job. Tensions such as these occasionally deflated the Apostle’s spirit.
The same challenges exist today for missionaries, pastors, teachers, and elected officials. We are all called to serve others, and especially as a member of the body of Christ. Any Christian who ministers to believers and unbelievers can struggle with discouragement when evaluated unfavorably. What can be done to encourage one another and to motivate us to persevere in ministry to God’s glory?
First, we recognize that ministry for Christ is a privilege. All who serve in ministry do so because “we received [God’s] mercy” (2 Cor 4:1). You and I should be encouraged in both action and word by recognizing the wonderful privilege to minister by God’s grace and for his glory.
Second, we recognize that ministry is focused upon Christ not self. Often the biblical message is rejected because it is not palatable to a sinful world. We renounce “the things hidden because of shame, not walking in craftiness or adulterating the word of God” (2 Cor 4:2). Ministry is not self-motivated; it is not focused upon our image, reputation, and success; rather, we serve as God requires and in the manner by which the Bible instructs us.
Third, we recognize that ministry is based upon the work of Christ. We are all “earthen vessels” (2 Cor 4:7): functional yet not always impressive. The more we look and feel like earthen vessels, the more we (and others) will examine our inner convictions and motivations. We like for people to be impressed by us, to notice us, and to think well of us. However, as God allows various effects to afflict, crush, perplex, persecute, and strike us down, He is pressing us into the mold of Christ Jesus (2 Cor 4:7-12). We are to be Christlike!
Fourth, we recognize that ministry for God’s glory has “an eternal weight of glory” (2 Cor 4:17). Remember that whatever ministry is disappointing or discouraging you, know that it is momentary and transient. Deacon, elder, friend, governing official, missionary, parent, pastor, spouse, teacher, Christian worker: affliction is “producing for us an eternal weight of glory.” The eternal reward will make the present difficulty slight “beyond all comparison.” Moreover, as we are afflicted, God’s people are “being renewed day by day.” Each and every day, “let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith” (Heb 12:1-2).
If we can help you in your commitment to spiritual maturity, please let me know, as this is why the ministry of Capitol Commission exists.
Your missionary to our Capitol community,