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Remembering why I have this ministry


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Feast at the house of Simon the Pharisee

If you have been in ministry, whether in your local church or in an overseas context, you will know that ministry can be discouraging.  We can be tempted to give up or to use a Pauline phrase, “to lose heart.”  Paul says he does not lose heart in 2 Corinthians 4:1 because he remembers that the ministry that he has been given is because of the mercy of God.

The Message provides an insightful wording of the verse, “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.”  I am sure that some of you, like me think, “occasional” hard times?  But remember Paul’s perspective later in 2 Cor 4:17 when he calls his struggles, “momentary light afflictions” compared with the “eternal weight of glory.”

Back to 2 Cor 4:1.  Paul says we have this ministry because we have received mercy.  You and I are not in ministry because we went to Seminary, because we volunteered, because we have been faithful, because we are at the right place at the right time.  We are in ministry because we have received mercy from God.  In other words, it is not about us, it is all about God!  That is why Paul says “For what we proclaim is not ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Cor 4:5). He initiated things and continues to take the initiative with us. We are able to love God and others only because God first loved us (1 John 4:19).  That is good to remember when we get tired and feel like we are the ones who seem to always being the initiator in ministry and in relationships.

Ministry is tough even at the best of times and we will be tempted at times to give up. But when we remember that we are in ministry only because we have been shown mercy, maybe we will remember that there is a world out there that is in desperate need of this same mercy and grace and we will keep going.  Again, Paul says it best in verse 6, “For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” As we have been shown light, may we be light bearers to others.

Question: What is discouraging you about ministry today? Meditate upon the mercy shown to you by God that enables you to be in ministry.

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  1. Anonymous
    March 22, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I needed to read this today…sometimes what I find most discouraging is meeting what I think are other peoples expectations of me-it seems I can never satisfy myself that I am “there yet” (whether or not others have actually expressed such expectations!). I appreciate once again being turned toward God-it’s not about me-and the reminder of the reason for my being in ministry in the first place is because of God’s mercy-this ministry is a gift of grace, not about my “giftedness” to perform.

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