WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 21, 2023
TOPIC: LIVING AS A TRUE MINISTER OF GOD (1)
BY T. O. BANSO
“In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God” (2 Corinthians 6:4a New Living Translation).
Jesus says that not everyone who says to Him “Lord, Lord” shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of His Father in heaven (Matthew 7:21). In other words, some people who call Him Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven while others who call Him Lord will not enter. That goes to say that anyone can call Jesus his Lord but Jesus will eventually show whether He is truly their Lord. He says in Luke 6:46, “But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” (New King James Version).
Jesus will reject some people despite calling him their Lord. “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:22-23 New King James Version).
From the foregoing, we can see that it is not everyone who calls himself a minister of God is truly one. Everybody can call himself any name but God knows everyone’s true identity. There are true ministers of God and there are imposters – fake ones.
In Paul’s day, there were true ministers of God and fake ones. 2 Corinthians 11:13 refers to some men as false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.
Paul didn’t call himself a minister but a true minister. He lived a life that showed he was a true minister of God. There are lessons to learn from him. Every minister should not be satisfied that He calls Jesus “Lord, Lord” but be sure that Jesus knows him, as Jesus will declare to some people that He never knew them and should depart from Him, for they practiced lawlessness. Every minister must live as a true minister of God, not an imposter or false minister. A ministerial title anyone bears or a large congregation he leads is not enough. He must either live as a true minister of God or he is an impostor, a fraud, or a fake.
Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:4a, “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God” (2 Corinthians 6:4a New Living Translation). Note the phrase “true ministers of God” which the Living Bible also uses. Although most translations do not use the phrase “true ministers of God,” one can infer from these two translations that some ministers of God are not true ministers of God! Paul said he showed in everything that he did that he was a true minister. Everyone should be a true minister of God or he is not a minister of God at all. If you are a minister of God, you should be a true minister.
What are some of the things Paul did to show that he was a true minister of God, which anyone who wants to be a true minister of God should emulate? My focus is on 2 Corinthians 6:3-10.
1. Endure hardship. Some people have the erroneous impression that ministry is a place for worldly enjoyment. But reading through the Bible and the history of the early church, this is far from the truth. Paul said, “We don’t give people any opportunity to find fault with how we serve. Instead, our lives demonstrate that we are God’s servants. We have endured many things: suffering, distress, anxiety, beatings, imprisonments, riots, hard work, sleepless nights, and lack of food” (2 Corinthians 6:3-5 GOD’S WORD Translation).
Note the list of what Paul said he endured. They are not what the world enjoys and look forward to when taking up a job! But this is ministry! A true minister of God must endure hardship so that he doesn’t give people the opportunity to find fault with how he serves. Writing to Timothy, Paul said he must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ (2 Timothy 2:3).
A true minister of God ministers both in favourable and unfavourable conditions; he is not a pleasure-seeker. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-30, Paul recalls all the adversities he had to endure in the ministry. According to Paul in Philippians 4:12, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need” (New King James Version). He ate but fasting was a regular part of his life.
A true minister of God must learn to endure unfavourable conditions he may face as he serves God. According to Jesus, in Mark 10:29-30, all the blessings He promised anyone who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for Him and the gospel will come with persecutions. So persecutions should be expected. But some people want the promised blessings without the promised persecutions! Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:10 that he took pleasure in infirmities, reproaches, needs, persecutions, and distresses for Christ’s sake. He didn’t complain but took pleasure in them. They were not unexpected. As Paul said, we must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God (Acts 14:22b).
2. Let the fruit of the Spirit be evident in your life. Many people’s emphasis is on the gifts of the Spirit, not on the fruit of the Spirit. They don’t pay serious attention to the fruit of the Spirit. They think the gifts of the Spirit are all they to succeed in ministry. But both are important. Paul said, “We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love” (2 Corinthians 6:6 New Living Translation). GOD’S WORD Translation puts it this way: “[People can see] our purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit’s presence [in our lives], our sincere love.” Most of the qualities mentioned here are in the list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23.
A true minister of God must yield the control of his life to the Holy Spirit to produce in him the qualities Paul mentioned and others in Galatians 5:22-23: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law” (New International Version). Without these qualities in a minister, his ministry may be discredited.
3. Faithfully preach the truth in the power of God. Paul did this as a true minister of God. He said in 2 Corinthians 4:1-2, “Therefore, since through God’s mercy we have this ministry, we do not lose heart. Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (New International Version).
Preach the truth in the power of the Holy Spirit. Turn away from secret and shameful ways. Don’t distort or twist the Word of God. Avoid trickery or deception. Paul said, “We faithfully preach the truth. God’s power is working in us” (2 Corinthians 6:7 New Living Translation). That’s what you should do as a true minister of God. Paul told Timothy to take heed to himself and the doctrine and continue in them, for in doing this he would save himself and his listeners (1 Timothy 4:16). Paul also told Titus to teach what is in accord with sound doctrine (Titus 2:1). Follow these instructions too.
A true minister of God is not an orator; he is an oracle – an oracle of God. When he faithfully preaches or teaches the truth of the Word of God in His power, there will be supernatural manifestations or miracles. In Luke 5:17, when Jesus was teaching, the power of God was present to heal the sick. The gospel Jesus entrusted to believers is a full gospel. “As you go, preach this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven is near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give” (Matthew 10:7-8 New International Version).
4. Put on the armour of righteousness. The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4). As a true minister of God, put on the armour of righteousness. Paul said he commended himself as a true minister of God by, among other things, the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left (2 Corinthians 6:7b).
The Contemporary English Version puts the verse thus: “In all our struggles we have said and done only what is right.” In other words, a true minister of God must put on the armour of righteousness by saying and doing only what is right. The New Century Version renders the verse this way: “We use our right living to defend ourselves against everything.”
A true servant of God must not only preach right but live right. He must not be like the religious leaders of Jesus’ time who didn’t do what they preached. Jesus told the crowds and His disciples, “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matthew 23:2-3 New International Version). Preach what is right and practice it. A true minister of God must live right. He must say and do what is right. He must not be just a teacher but also a doer of the Word, otherwise, he is a hypocrite.
I will conclude this topic tomorrow. Be a true minister of God.
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit that you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and God raised Him on the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like a palm tree and grow like a cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
PRAYER POINTS: Holy Spirit, help me to live as a true minister of God. Help me to endure hardship as a good soldier of Christ. The fruit of the Spirit shall be evident in my life in Jesus’ name. I shall faithfully preach the truth in the power of God. I shall put on the armour of righteousness by saying and doing only what is right. I shall live right in Jesus’ name. My ministry shall not be discredited.
(For over 900 in-depth and powerful messages by T. O. Banso, visit www.cedarministry.org).
T. O. Banso is the President of Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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