“But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God. . .”

II Corinthians 6:4a

As someone once said, “The proof of the pudding’s in the eating.”

And, so it is when it comes to “approving ourselves as the ministers (Grk. ‘diakonos’—‘attendant, waiter, servant, etc.’) of God.”  Although this word is commonly translated “deacon,” the fact remains that everyone of us are “under-rowers” on the Good Ship Salvation, who are willingly chained to Christ, our Commander-in-Chief.

Consequently, we should never settle for less-than-our-best when it comes to God’s Kingdom work.  That’s why the Apostle Paul said “no one who runs in a race should be content with second place; instead, you should strive for the prize/trophy/gold medal.  And every man that strives for the mastery (Grk. ‘agonizomai’—‘to struggle, compete, contend with an adversary, fervently labor, etc.’) is temperate (Grk. ‘egkrateuomai’—‘to exercise restraint in diet and chastity, to contain, be self-controlled, disciplined, etc.’) in all things. . .not to obtain a corruptible (earthly) crown, but an incorruptible one” (I Cor. 9:24-25).

And, to that he adds “I, therefore, run, not as uncertainly (i.e., not knowing where I’m running) or fight as one who beats (flails away at) the air; instead, I keep under (Grk. ‘hupopiazo’—‘to hit under the eye, disable an opponent, buffet, subdue one’s passions, etc.’) my body and bring it into subjection (Grk. ‘doulagogeo’—to be a slave-driver, bring under control, subdue, etc.’) lest by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (Grk. ‘adokimos’—‘unapproved, rejected, worthless, reprobate, etc.’)” (I Cor. 9:26-27).

With such “intense intentionality,” we will show we have not “received God’s Grace in vain” (II Cor. 6:1).  Likewise, we’ll “give no offense in anything”—i.e., become a stumbling-block or reason for ridicule or scorn—which will keep “the ministry from being blamed” (v.3).  And, in the process we’ll “approve (Grk. ‘sunistao’—‘commend, demonstrate, exhibit, make stand, establish, etc.’) ourselves as ministers of God.”

Then, to make sure his readers (and us) did not misunderstand his message’s meaning, Paul lists various scenarios in which this “approving” will manifest itself:  “Much patience, afflictions, necessities, distresses, in stripes, imprisonments, tumults, labors, watchings, fastings, etc.” (vv.4b-10).  And, a careful study of these situations will help us realize that even our “fiery trials” are used to define and refine Christlike character within us and will reveal our spiritual “mettle” as the “dross” (sin) rises to the top and is removed by the Holy Spirit during the process of sanctification (cf. I Pet. 1:6-7).

Dear Pilgrim, “in everything we are to give thanks—for this is the Will of God in Christ Jesus concerning us” (I Thess. 5:18).  Thus, part of our “approving” or “Christ-curing” involves spiritual discipline whereby we are “exercised” (Heb. 5:14) by the difficulties we experience.  Instead of “despising them or fainting in the midst of them” (Heb. 12:5), we should always remember the Heavenly Father is using them “for our profit that we might be partakers of His Holiness as He produces the peaceable fruit of Righteousness in us” (Heb. 12:10-11).  Thank You, Lord.

By Tom Smith Morning Manna Dated September 6, 2010

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