WISDOM FOR LIVING DAILY DEVOTIONAL
NOVEMBER 22, 2023
TOPIC: LIVING AS A TRUE MINISTER OF GOD (2)
BY T. O. BANSO
“In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God” (2 Corinthians 6:4a New Living Translation).
In the first part of this message, we looked at what the Apostle Paul said about how he showed that he was a true minister of God. He was conscious of his actions so that nobody would refuse to come to Christ because of him. He said, “In everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God” (2 Corinthians 6:4a New Living Translation).
Focusing on what Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:3-10, I started highlighting what the ministers of God today should do as true ministers of God based on what Paul did. I discussed four in the first part of this message, namely:
1. Endure hardship.
2. Let the fruit of the Spirit be evident in your life.
3. Faithfully preach the truth in the power of God.
4. Put on the armour of righteousness.
I want to discuss the remaining points today.
5. Don’t be moved by the praise or slander of people. People will say both good and bad things about ministers of God but a true minister of God should not let his actions be determined by this. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:8, “Some people honor us, but others blame us. Some people say evil things about us, but others say good things. Some people say we are liars, but we speak the truth” (New Century Version). Despite all this, Paul focused on his ministry. If not handled well, both honour and dishonour can destroy someone. The Good News Translation puts 2 Corinthians 6:8 this way: “We are honored and disgraced; we are insulted and praised. We are treated as liars, yet we speak the truth.”
If you will be a true minister of God, you must not be influenced by negative or positive public opinion. Both praise and slander can make one derail. Some people have been discouraged by false negative reports about them while others have become proud and gone into error because of the praise of men. Don’t love the praise of men (John 12:43). If you love the praise of men, flatterers will sing your praises until you fall.
A true minister of God does not seek to please men but God. Don’t seek to please men; please God. Paul said, “For do I now persuade men, or God? Or do I seek to please men? For if I still pleased men, I would not be a bondservant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10 New King James Version). He also said in Romans 2:29 says, “No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God” (New International Version). Whatever bad or good names people may call you, make sure that you live to please God.
6. Know that you are well known even if you are unknown. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 6:9, “We are not known, but we are well known” (New Century Version). The New King James Version puts it this way: “As unknown, and yet well known.” Also, the New International Version presents it thus: “Known, yet regarded as unknown.”
Probably Paul meant that some people might regard him as unknown or might not know him but he is well known by God and others. Nobody is sent to everybody and not everybody will accept a minister of God; some may choose not to honour him or have regard for him. While some people rejected Jesus, others received Him. John 1:11-12 says that Jesus came to His own, and His own did not receive Him but as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:
Writing to the Corinthians, Paul said, “Are we starting to brag about ourselves again? Do we need letters of introduction to you or from you, like some other people? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everyone” (2 Corinthians 3:1-2 New Century Version). In other words, the Corinthians knew him well even if some people disregarded him.
Don’t be discouraged if some people regard you as an obscure person and don’t give you any recognition. Be satisfied that God knows you and the people He has sent you to minister to know you. A true minister of God does not chase fame or engage in popularity contests. Paul said that he spoke as someone approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel and was not trying to please men but God, who tested his heart (1 Thessalonians 2:4). Verse 6a says, “We were not looking for praise from men, not from you or anyone else” (New International Version).
7. Believe that God will preserve you and you will not die prematurely. Paul said, “As dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed” (2 Corinthians 6:9b New King James Version). The New Living Translation says, “We live close to death, but we are still alive. We have been beaten, but we have not been killed.”
Paul faced death every day but God didn’t allow him to die before his time. He said, “We face death every day because of Jesus. Our bodies show what his death was like, so that his life can also be seen in us” (2 Corinthians 4:10-11 Contemporary English Version). In 1 Corinthians 15:31a, Paul also said, “For I swear, dear brothers and sisters, that I face death daily” (New Living Translation). Nevertheless, he didn’t die without fulfilling his ministry. God preserved him even when he was in a situation where he expected to die (2 Corinthians 1:9).
Note that phrase in 2 Corinthians 6:9: “as chastened, and yet not killed” (New King James Version). Psalm 118:18 says, “The Lord has chastened me severely, but He has not given me over to death” (New King James Version). Also, Deuteronomy 8:5 says, “You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the LORD your God chastens you” (New King James Version). God chastises His children in love. “For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:6 New King James Version). As 1 Corinthians 11:32 says, when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. A true minister of God will believe that God will preserve Him even when He chastens or corrects him.
Even if by the phrase “as chastened, and yet not killed” Paul was referring to the enemy’s chastening, or beating, as some translations put it, God will protect His true minister. He will not deliver him to the will of his adversaries (Psalm 27:12a).
8. Rejoice in sorrow. Paul, as a true minister of God, said in 2 Corinthians 6:10, “We have much sadness, but we are always rejoicing” (New Century Version). The New King James Version says it like this: “As sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.” A true minister of God puts his negative condition in divine perspective and, therefore, always counts it all joy (James 1:2). He doesn’t live in denial of his sorrow but is not paralyzed by sorrow; he rejoices in sorrow.
In Acts 5, after the Sanhedrin had beaten the apostles, they left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name (verse 41). True ministers of God rejoice in sorrow.
In Acts 16, after Paul and Silas had been thoroughly beaten and thrown into prison, at midnight, they were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them (verse 25). Paul and Silas were rejoicing in sorrow.
The Apostle Peter says, “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:12-13 New King James Version).
Paul says, “We also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance” (Romans 5:3 New King James Version). True servants of God rejoice in sorrow. They know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). They also know that everything does not end here on earth. That’s why, Paul says, for instance, that believers should not sorrow or grieve about those who fall asleep (die) or grieve like those who have no hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
9. Don’t let money-making be your goal in ministry. Paul’s aim in ministry was not to become rich. In 2 Corinthians 2:17, Paul made a difference between himself and many people who peddled the word of God: “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ” (New King James Version). The Contemporary English Version puts it this way, “A lot of people try to get rich from preaching God’s message. But we are God’s sincere messengers, and by the power of Christ we speak our message with God as our witness.” The New Century Version says, “We do not sell the word of God for a profit as many other people do. But in Christ we speak the truth before God, as messengers of God.”
Unfortunately, some people today see the ministry as a place to become millionaires because God “has pleasure in the prosperity of His servant”! (Psalm 35:27 New King James Version). Such people always interpret prosperity to mean only money or material possessions. They place money above souls. The goal of a true minister of God is not to make money in ministry or acquire material possessions by hook or crook. His goal is souls – the salvation of souls.
Paul didn’t use ministry to amass wealth, as some people do. As a true minister of God, Paul said, “We are poor, but we are making many people rich in faith. We have nothing, but really we have everything” (2 Corinthians 6:10 New Century Version). Paul’s ministry made many rich spiritually. James 2:5 says, “Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (New King James Version).
Some people are becoming rich today by making many poor! They have everything they want at the expense of their victims. Such people engage in trickery and distortion of the Word of God because of money. But one of the qualifications for appointment as a bishop (pastor) or deacon is that he must not be greedy for money (1 Timothy 3:3, 8; Titus 1:7). “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers — not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve” (1 Peter 5:2 New International Version).
Paul said that some rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group must be silenced, because they were ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach, for the sake of dishonest gain. They were not true ministers of God.
Some people are in the ministry not serving the Lord Jesus Christ but their belly (Romans 16:18). Their god is their belly. “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: whose end is destruction, whose god is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame–who set their mind on earthly things” (Philippians 3:18-19 New King James Version). Such ministers are not true ministers of God. They worship mammon, not God. You cannot serve God and mammon (money) (Matthew 6:24; Luke 16:13).
The conduct of a true minister of God is without covetousness and he is content with what he has (Hebrews 13:5a). Godliness with contentment is great gain (1 Timothy 6:6). A true servant of God does not pursue riches in ministry; he is not guilty of the love of money. “People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs” (1 Timothy 6:9-10 New International Version).
Conclusion: Are you a true minister of God or an impostor? Serve Jesus Christ, not your belly. Serve God, not mammon. Live as a true minister of God. Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God; set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth (Colossians 3:1-2).
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 be a true minister of God. I shall serve God, not money; I shall serve the Lord Jesus Christ, not by belly. My belly will not be my god. Empower me, Holy Spirit, to seek the things that are above and set my mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
(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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