The Ministry of Endurance
2 Corinthians 6:1-13
Christ’s ministers need great endurance. Endurance is always a part of work, so as the ministry of Christ. There will be times that we feel quitting. There will be times that we feel giving up, surrendering from the ministry.
But what does Paul say about the reality of ministry and how far should we go?
In Troubles – hardships and distress. There are lots of hardships and distresses in ministry, especially if things seem to be not getting so well. Paul’s ministry has been full of challenges. There are people who tried to discredit their work; there are some who purposefully attack their credibility. Worst thing that happened some believed with those false teachers and turned their backs against him and the rest of the apostles who labored for them. This is one of the most painful things that happen in the ministerial work of Christ.
In Beatings – imprisonments and riots. Paul’s ministry does not only involve them in personal attacks but also in physical attacks. Several times they were captured and imprisoned. This is not so true in our context in the Philippines, but this is very true in some of the neighboring countries like China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc.
In Hard Work – sleepless nights and hunger. Ministry literally involves hard work. There is no such ministry that is easy and effortless. Whatever ministry that you have, it requires effort. There are times that you will not sleep; there were times that you will experience hunger. There are times that you will have to walk for kilometers just to reach your Bible study group. There are times that you have to swim and cross rivers, there are times that you will have to give extra time even after a long week of work. These are natural things for an ambassador of Christ.
In Purity – understanding, patience and kindness. It is very important to someone who was called by God to be pure and blameless. In here, Paul made an emphasis in understanding, patience and kindness. Understanding, refers to how do we understand how it is to be pure minded. Pure minded is the presence of godly wisdom.
Purity produces patience and kindness. Even in the midst of hardships, there is patience and continuous kindness of the heart.
In Holy Spirit and In Sincere Love. One of the main foundations of Christian ministry is the working of the Holy Spirit and sincere love to God and to one another. Ministries should be driven by our love to God and our commitment. As we have mentioned earlier, there is no easy ministry. All ministries require effort, require work, and require commitment.
Furthermore, any ministry should be by the working of the Holy Spirit and neither by the condition of money nor by anything that will form part of payment for the commitment. This simply means that ministry should not be based on payment, but be based on our love and commitment to our Lord.
In Truthful Speech and in the Power of God. As ministers, we were commissioned to bring out the gospel and not our own opinion. God gave us the ministry of bringing the truth and his words and not our own opinion. Not our own agenda, but God’s agenda. Not our own benefit, but things that please God.
In Righteousness – right hand and in left. Doing righteousness, doing things that pleases him. It is not only confined with the one that can be seen by men, but also those that are not seen. It involves the way we think. It involves our motives.
Through Glory and Dishonor – bad report and good report. There are times when the ministry drops down to the bottom, yet there are times that it soars up to a higher level. There are times that some men will discredit the work that has been done, yet the ministry of the Lord will continue to prosper. It might be delayed sometimes, but it cannot be stopped. It is inevitable to be heard.
There will be time that disappointments come, but the power of God will prevail. As Jesus said to his Church, not even the gates of hell can prevail against it.
Genuine – yet regarded as impostors. There will always be people who love commenting yet unable to contribute change. There are people who discredit others, while they themselves are not qualified. Crab mentality sometimes exists within the Christian community, yet the genuine servant of God will always prove to be right as long as he sticks in what the Lord says.
Known – yet regarded as unknown. Though some strongly question their authority to bring the gospel and the gospel that they bring, Paul with the other apostles continuously preach the gospel even without the introduction of noble people who can convince the people to listen to them.
Dying – yet live on. Experiencing all sorts of troubles in life as ministers, some of them have experienced sickness, hunger, and beatings. Yet, continued to live on and do God’s work. This also means that as ministers of Christ, we are always exposed to dying.
Beaten – yet not killed. Beating Christians during these times were very prevalent, especially in the time of Emperor Nero. Christians were second class citizens and going to public places to preach the gospel would be a little dangerous to do so. Some have been caught and beaten. But no matter how people tried to destroy Christianity by destroying the carriers of the message, the message will continue to spread and cannot be destroyed. History proves this.
Sorrowful – yet always rejoicing. Sometimes, this differentiates us from the non-believers. We can still rejoice even in the sorrowful moments. The world sees us to be boring; they see us to be people who live in sadness and grief. Yet, we are able to have the positive joy which undoubtedly comes from the assurances of God’s favor, and the hope of eternal glory.
Poor – yet making many rich. Most of the early disciples were poor. Those who have some property have forsaken their property in order to preach the gospel. It does not mean however that it is wrong to be rich and that the rich can never follow God. However, Christ’s laborers does not focus on material things, instead, demonstrates the beauty of the sustaining power of God.
Though God’s laborers were poor, they have become instruments and channels of the most valuable possession one could ever have. They bestowed to the people the true riches, things that neither moth nor rust can destroy. Things that are more valuable than kings or princes could ever bestow.
Having nothing – yet possessing everything. Yes, most apostles do not have property. Yet possessing a portion of all things that may be necessary for our welfare as far as our Father in heaven approves it to be necessary for us. We also have the interest of all things, enjoying God’s creation for all its worth. We are heirs of all things the fact that we have received eternal life. And finally, we are in possession of the grace and friendship of God, the knowledge of the Savior that comprises the very purpose of life.