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A desire to serve
- Jacob Ninan
As you know, people have all kinds of aims when they seek to have a 'ministry.' Many times there is a strong desire to 'make it big' in Christian circles, and to be admired and sought after by large numbers. We know it is a snare because that is the very opposite of wanting to serve (minister). As someone said, we need to be clear in out heart and mind what we want to do--to impress or to bless. There is no anointing in following techniques or imitating others, and God who searches our hearts can support us only if we are men and women after His own heart (2Ch.16:9).
God found Paul to be trustworthy who used to be a blasphemer and persecutor, and entrusted him with a ministry (1Ti.1:12,13). Wasn't it because he was true to what he believed even in those days? There was no guile or hypocrisy there. This is what God primarily wants from us rather than abilities or resources when He seeks to entrust us with His ministry. This also teaches us that even a dreadful past need not hinder our ministry, but a double-minded heart will (Jas.1:7,8).
God tests us before He can entrust us with responsibilities over others. These tests will show us what actually dwells in our hearts (De.8:2). When we see dirt there, or mixtures of good and bad, it is not for us to despair but to seek more earnestly to prepare our hearts before God. That is how we become equipped to serve in His vineyard.
One of the qualifications we need if we are to minister to others is a good heart (Ro.15:14). Righteousness and holiness have a tendency to turn off people in the absence of goodness (Ro.5:7). Love for God is not sufficient when it comes to serving people because we need that to be balanced with love for people (Mt.22:37-40).
However much we know or however capable we are, we cannot really serve people without the anointing from God. If we desire to minister to the others, we ought to keep 'pestering' God for His gifts and grace just like the man in the parable requesting his neighbour for bread to give to his visitor (Lk.11:5,6).
There is also a continuing education or on-the-job training, where we need to clean out the muck that comes up from the flesh and also to wash our feet. Dealing with others is one sure way of seeing our own need. Working out our own salvation has to go on in parallel as we work with others because otherwise we might end up getting disqualified in the end (1Ti.4:16;1Co.9:27). Also, if the food we serve to the others is to be edifying, it must be what we have received fresh from the Lord.
There is much work to be done in God's vineyard and each of us has a different task. We do not need to envy the brother who has a bigger ministry nor despair because our ministry is small (but significant!). But we need to keep cleansing ourselves if God has to entrust us with more responsible tasks (2Ti.2:20,21). And whatever our hands find to do, let us do it heartily and as unto the Lord (1Co.10:31;Co.3:17).