As believers, each of us is a participant in the purpose of Christ: the sharing of the Gospel. We need to be careful not to put obstacles in anyone’s way that hinders our ministry.
The Apostle Paul’s Declaration | Our Ministry in Christ
The Apostle Paul, knowing that his purpose and ability was from God, worked continuously to encourage the Church, mature believers, and persuade the lost of the Truth of the Gospel. Understanding the critical nature of his message, he knew he must always strive to live in a way that did not hinder his ministry. He wrote:
We put no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we commend ourselves in every way: by great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise.
2 Corinthians 6:3-8. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016. Print.
In his statement, he focuses on four areas:
- Our Witness in Trials
- The Method of Our Witness
- Our Tools of the Witness
- The Timing of Our Witness
Our Witness in Trials | Our Ministry in Christ
If we are not consistent and genuine in our faithful devotion to Christ, it hinders our ministry. Therefore, even when we must endure great difficulties in this life, we are to do so in a manner that honors Christ.
Paul listed some potential circumstances where this is true:
in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger”
He experienced every one of those conditions. In our lives, we will suffer. It is a given. Things are going to happen which are painful to endure, but Scripture, in several places, directs us to do so in a way different from the world. We have a reason to rejoice even in adversity. These afflictions and troubled times will not last.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Romans 8:18. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016. Print.
This doesn’t mean we do not suffer or mourn. It means we do so in a manner that recognizes the temporary nature of the problems and the glory that awaits. Our hope is not stolen from us in momentary troubles. It rests securely in the Victory of Jesus, our Lord.
Because of that confidence, we can endure all things in a way that does not hinder our ministry, our witness.
The Method of Our Witness | Our Ministry in Christ
Paul continues his declaration by listing the method or manner in which we minister.
by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, the Holy Spirit, genuine love; by truthful speech, and the power of God;”
This is not a list from which we pick and choose what we want to do. It is not ordered by degree of importance. This is an all-encompassing approach reflecting that we are indeed followers of Christ.
We minister as Jesus did.
Our Tools of Witness | Our Ministry in Christ
with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left;
In Ephesians 6, Paul writes to tell us to arm ourselves with the “shield of faith” and the “sword of the Spirit.” These are our tools of righteousness. They are our weapons in the battle against the principalities of darkness. With them, we are equipped to fight for the souls of the lost as we share the Gospel of Christ.
The Timing of Our Witness | Our Ministry in Christ
Paul concludes his declaration by stating when we are to avoid creating obstacles to the ministry, and when we are to be about sharing the Gospel in the manner of Christ, armed with the weapons of righteousness.
through honor and dishonor, through slander and praise.
The most straightforward answer is: At All Times and without regard to how we are received or treated.
Are we effective in our ministry?
Paul was careful to note that anything he was able to do through his ministry was because of Christ. At the same time, he did not use that as an excuse to live as he pleased. He depended on Christ to achieve what was needed while he strived daily to live in such a way that was pleasing to our Lord and not a hindrance to the Gospel.
Are we following his example? In our ministry, is the Truth hindered or commended by our lives?