The Attitude of Our Ministry

Momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.

–2 Corinthians 4:17

God has entrusted us with an important responsibility: to be His ministers and further His interests during our time on earth. What is to be our attitude toward this assignment? Are we to mope around saying, “Woe is me! What a heavy burden!”? That wasn’t Paul’s attitude toward his ministry. In Colossians 1:24, he said, “I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake.”

When Paul wrote these words, he was in captivity because of his stewardship of the gospel. How did Paul maintain joy in the midst of his suffering? Let me share two keys from Paul’s life to help you keep your joy no matter how difficult your circumstances may be.

First of all, Paul kept his joy by remembering God’s past faithfulness. In 1 Timothy 1:12–13, he said, “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor.” Anytime you think your sin is too great to be forgiven, remember Paul. He blasphemed the name of God, persecuted the church, and murdered believers, yet he was shown grace and mercy. If God could forgive Paul, He can forgive anyone. Paul never got over the fact that God had saved him and selected him to be His ambassador. During times of suffering, he was strengthened by God’s past faithfulness.

Second, Paul kept his joy by focusing on God’s future reward for him. He wrote in 2 Corinthians 4:17, “Momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison.” Paul’s afflictions were anything but light and momentary. He was beaten nearly to death five times. He was shipwrecked. He was imprisoned. But in the midst of suffering, he remembered the glorious reward God had promised him.

As a teenager, I visited the chapel outside Rome that marks the place where Paul was imprisoned and finally beheaded. On the wall of that chapel are some of the final words Paul wrote before he was executed: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7–8). When you’re in the midst of suffering, when your calling to ministry seems burdensome, remember God’s past faithfulness to you, and focus on the eternal future you have in Him.

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Today’s devotion is adapted from “Called to Minister” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2011.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org.

 

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