“Ministry that costs nothing, accomplishes nothing.”
-Dr. John Henry Jowett
Ministry to me has always seemed to be exciting and limitless. It amazes me that the same God of the Bible in which I study and read about is giving me the honor of becoming a vessel in which He uses to reach His people and to teach them of the Truth that offers miraculous life change. You never know who He will bring into your life, and a God whose very being is immutable has no external influences that would change His sovereign and perfect plan.
But there are times while ministering to people when it's easy to get distracted from that serving mentality. We find ourselves exhausted, uncomfortable, or just plain weak. And instead of turning immediately to The Lord for our source of strength and comfort, it's dangerously easy for us to start playing the victim and inviting self-pity to coddle our "I'm just doing so much" outlook. Thinking that we deserve to have a comfortable lifestyle and that our time is more beneficial if spent doing something else rather than serving those God has placed in our life.
But the truth is,
You simply cannot do ministry fully and effectively without sacrifice.
Don't believe me? Look at Jesus' ministry.
And unfortunately, this is where it gets hard.
Instead of us sipping our lattes while posting photos on our social media of a favorite verse we stumbled upon in our quiet time, (although not inherently bad, I myself do both of those things), we are called to so much more.
We are called to sacrifice.
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,"
God has been sanctifying me in those last three words recently:
"not for men"
This means I have no excuse whatsoever to not serve.
Someone I served didn't say thank you?
Roommates didn't do the dishes again and I'm going to have to clean it up like last time?
I have to take time to listen to someone vent about their day and counsel them when they don't even care about what I'm going through?
I have to use my own money to help a friend in need when they never help me when I'm in need?
Our actions are not contingent on what others have done for us, rather what Jesus has done for us. And the sacrifice Jesus has done for us is a debt in which we can never repay.
Therefore, we do not serve others because they have been kind to us, or have treated us nicely. It isn’t them we are serving to begin with.
Even Jesus Himself addresses this idea of “serving those who are easy to serve” in Matthew 5:46-48:
"For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
That word "perfect" in the last sentence doesn't mean "sinless", but rather suggests maturity, or completeness as sons of God. And isn't it our goal as followers of Christ to be made more like Christ?
Serving others based off of what they have done, or what they could do for us is the complete opposite of the Gospel. Imagine if that's how Jesus loved us? I don't know about you, but I have absolutely nothing to bring to the table.
As Believers, we are called to be different- to stand out. How easy it is to be kind to someone who is kind to you! Even the tax collectors, people who were thought of at low esteem for taking money from people, have the capability of being nice to those who are nice to them in return. Why? Because that reaction is natural to our selfish, sinful flesh. What is unnatural is giving to those who could never return the favor.
After all, just look at Jesus:
"For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." -Romans 5:6–8
Not while we were perfect, or let alone nice. Not when we had something He needed. Read that again:
"While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
What does this mean for us?
It means we never have the right to judge someone based off of what they have done, or could do for us when our very lives are blood-bought by Jesus.
Praise God that His love isn't conditional. That His love does not come with an "application" we must fill out and have approved. Rather, it is through His own sacrifice in which He displays His love towards us. And it is through the Holy Spirit that we are given the ability to love those who are hard to love and serve those whom we don't want to serve for the glory of God. May the Lord sober our minds and continually bring us back to the truth of where we came from. Because at the end of the day, life isn't about us. We are just vessels of our Heavenly Father who seeks to love and serve the lost-and if He does, shouldn't we too?