In today’s scripture, Paul the apostle is making a comparison between the old covenant ministry (the ten commandments) and the new covenant ministry, in which all born-again believers in Jesus Christ are called to play a part.
Have you ever wondered what part you might be called to play, or what your ‘ministry’ is? Perhaps you’re already involved at church, or are serving God in some way that you believe is helping to advance His Kingdom on earth? Maybe you’re not quite sure what to do!
There are many kinds of churches and ministries to be found all over the world, and lots of good causes to get involved with, but how can we know which are really making a difference?
To help us get an idea of what God’s ministry on the earth is all about, I would like us to focus on five words which Paul uses to describe the new covenant ministry. He calls it ‘the ministry of the Spirit’. That’s a really important phrase. The ministry which God has called us to is not yours, it’s not mine and it’s not somebody else’s. It’s the ministry of the Spirit. This means that the Holy Spirit Himself carries out the ministry, through us!
With this understanding, we can see that if we’re not being led by the Holy Spirit, working in the power of the Holy Spirit, or operating in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we’re potentially attempting to do the Spirit’s work with our own human ability. We need to be very careful that we’re not trying to ‘build the church’ or ‘build a ministry’ using human methods and human strength, because ‘unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labour in vain’ (Psalm 127:1).
Jesus told us clearly that He would build His Church (Matthew 16:18), and that, apart from Him, we can do absolutely nothing (John 15)! The ‘work’ or ‘ministry’ that we carry out in our own strength will amount to nothing, but when we yield to the Holy Spirit and allow Him to gift, lead and empower us, we will see truly glorious things happen.
Think about Peter. His best human efforts got him as far as betraying Jesus. When he was restored and filled with the Holy Spirit, 3,000 were saved, after his very first sermon. That’s the ministry of the Spirit!
After Jesus gave His disciples the Great Commission, He told them, “but stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49). It seems quite clear to me that God never intended us to try to preach the gospel, heal the sick, start churches or do any other form of ministry without the power of the Holy Spirit. After all it’s His ministry, not ours.
Prayer: Father, thank You that You’re carrying out Your ministry on earth by the power of Your Holy Spirit. Thank You that, even today, I have the privilege of being able to play a part in this glorious ministry. Thank You that You’re ready to gift, lead and empower me to do what I could never do in my own strength. I want to say sorry for the times I’ve tried to serve You in my own way, with my own ability or strength, and when I’ve thought that it all depended on me. Thank You that, as I allow You to lead me, You’ll give me the gifts and the empowering I need to fulfil the part You’ve called me to play for Your glory. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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