Finding Joy in the Ministry of Others

Finding Joy in the Ministry of Others

Philippians 1:15-18

“What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice.”

 

            In ministry, it is easy to be jealous of the success of others, especially when they are ministering with the wrong motives. It does not matter what ministry we are involved in; there will always be others obtaining greater results and getting more recognition.  As a result, we can become discouraged, or worse, we can become bitter.  We labor just as hard, strive to obey Christ, and honor him.  Yet they appear arrogant and proud as they brag about their popularity and success.  Instead of promoting Christ, they seem more concerned about promoting their program.  Yet people still flock to their ministries, and they get the recognition of others. Whether we are a church pastor, program leaders, or even a Sunday School teacher, others will always get the recognition while we labor in the trenches. 

            Even in the early church, some people were more concerned about building their popularity than Christ’s kingdom.  They were using the ministry as a platform for their self-grandisement. While their message was right, their motivation was askew. It was tempting for Paul to become resentful.  They enjoyed popularity while Paul experienced imprisonment.  They received the commendation of others, but Paul received criticism and condemnation.  They were motivated by envy and a desire for recognition.  It would have been easy for Paul to publicly condemn them as spiritual charlatans.  Instead, Paul rejoiced because they were still preaching the gospel of Christ.  They had the right message but the wrong character.

            So how could Paul rejoice for these individuals serving with the wrong motives?  The answer is in 1 Timothy 1:15, where Paul affirms that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am the foremost of all.”  It is essential to notice that he uses the present tense.  Paul recognized that all of us are ultimately sinners who are unworthy of being ministers of the gospel. If we are honest, none of us deserve to be in ministry, and none of us are worthy of any blessing from God.  It is not the messenger that gives power to the message but the message itself.  If it were necessary that we be perfect and righteous before we could be involved in God’s redemptive program, then none of us would be qualified.  When we start to condemn and disqualify others for their motives and sins, we are also condemning and disqualifying ourselves.  Christ does not call perfect people to convey his message; he calls imperfect, sin-marred individuals to proclaim his grace.  Instead of condemning others for their faults, we can rejoice that God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.  He uses sinful people with sinful motives to advance his kingdom.  In doing so, God demonstrates his power and grace through us.  

            This applies in several ways.  First, we should be careful about condemning others for their sin even as they preach the gospel.  Only when they corrupt the gospel or refuse to repent of sin are they disqualified.  Second, we need to recognize our unworthiness and that it is in our unworthiness that Christ demonstrates his grace. Paul goes on to state in 1 Timothy 1:16, “Yet for this reason I found mercy, so that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience as an example.”   Last, we can be confident in ministry, not because we are worthy but because of God’s empowerment.  We do not need to be perfect; we just need to be available for God to use.  Do you feel inadequate and unworthy of any ministry; this is the starting point for effective ministry, for then is when we rely upon God’s grace and empowerment.  

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