[‘encouragement’, ‘exhortation’, for life and ministry]
In my last two messages, I have written about confessing personal sins, and churches confessing corporate sins. In this the last of this series, we deal with sins of ministry.
I find that some people in ministry are aware of their personal sins, but have not yet reflected on the sins they commit by the ministry they do, or by the way they do it. I hope this will be helpful for you, and also helpful as you nurture and encourage and train others in gospel ministry.
It is a sign of God’s immense grace and kindness that he even forgives sins of ministry! If you become aware of such a sin, run to the cross of Christ to confess your sin, and he will forgive you immediately, as he has promised.
This is not a complete list, but I hope it will get you reflecting on this topic. Remember that it is our sins which limit our usefulness to God, not our lack of gifts, energy, or resources! And notice that God is concerned not only about what we do, but why we do it, and how we do it. As you read this list, ask God to show you your sins of ministry.
‘The one who leads, with zeal’ [Rom 12:8].
Leadership which does not lead is easy to do. Leadership with zeal is aware of changes that need to be made, good things that need to be encouraged, and how encourage others to maximise effective output. Lead with zeal!
‘Whoever would be first among you must be slave of all’ [Mark 10:44].
Let your leadership be servant-leadership, not self-promotion, not making use of other people, not manipulating people, and not seeking your own glory. Be the slave of all.
‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much. Enter the joy of your master’ [Matt 25:21].
Don’t undervalue small responsibilities, or small ministries. Be faithful over what your master entrusts to you.
‘Knowledge puffs up while love builds up’ [I Cor 8:1].
Don’t get puffed up by what you know: it is all a gift of God, and getting puffed up means you are focused on yourself. Use your knowledge to build up others with love.
‘I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize’ [I Cor 9:27].
Discipline and train yourself to be all things to all people that you may save some, and restrain yourself from using your freedom to self-destruct.
‘God can testify how I long for all of you with the affection of Christ Jesus’ [Phil 1:8].
Let Christ’s love for people be your example and standard.
‘Join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God’ [2 Tim 1:8].
Take your share of suffering for the gospel in the church and in the world.
‘What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus. Guard the good deposit that was entrusted to you—guard it with the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us’ [2 Tim 1:13,14].
Guard, protect, defend, speak, teach and preach the gospel of Christ.
‘Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth’ [2 Tim 2:15].
Present yourself and your ministry to God, for his approval. And correctly handle the word of truth in your preaching and teaching, and pastoral ministry.
‘Those who cleanse themselves … will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work. Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace’ [2 Tim 2:21,22].
Cleanse yourself from your sins by Christ’s blood, so that you are prepared for any good work. Flee your evil desires, and pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace.
‘All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work’ [2 Tim 3:17].
Keep studying the Scriptures, so that God may equip you for every good work he gives you to do.
‘Since an overseer manages God’s household, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather, he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it’ [Tit 1:7-9].
Don’t do these sins, and do practise these virtues and ministries.
‘See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called “Today,” so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness’ [Heb 3:12,13].
Be ready to correct others, and be ready to be corrected by others, because sin deceives us so we become self-deceived.
‘Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly … For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere’ [Jas 3:1,16,17].
Pray for heavenly wisdom, and show it in all your ministry!
‘Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away’ [1 Pet. 5:2-4].
Don’t do your ministry because you have to, but do it willingly. Don’t look for earthly rewards, but serve eagerly. Don’t be a bully: be a good example. And wait for your glorious reward when Christ returns.
With warmest good wishes.
May we all grow in holiness of life and ministry, and serve the Lord Jesus for his glory.