In this brief verse is a major key to you having an effective, fruitful ministry for the Lord. And that key is recognizing and giving your sharply focused effort to the
In my years of church pastoring and Bible college teaching, I’ve had the privilege of counseling and helping some of the Lord’s people find their unique ministries and pursue them successfully. And I’ve seen others encounter frustration and disappointment over a lack of fruit. Often that is because they are inappropriately trying to fulfill a ministry to which they are not called or gifted by the Lord. On the other hand, when the believer has found his precise calling from the Lord — “the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord” — there is joy, personal fulfillment, and fruit borne unto the Lord.
It’s not a matter of who is gifted more. It’s a matter of each one finding that “just right,” unique place where he or she fits in the overall body of Christ. To every believer I recommend seeking the Lord for His revelation and wisdom to you concerning where He wants to use you in His Church and His kingdom. Feel free to ask a pastor or elder of your church to help you in this prayerful seeking of God’s ministry calling that is uniquely upon you. That’s a key to experiencing the joy of seeing Jesus’ words fulfilled in you: “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit” (John 15:8).
Shortly before Jesus ascended back to heaven, he had this interesting interaction with Peter. Seeing John behind them, Peter said, “Lord, what about him?” Jesus’ reply speaks clearly into our topic today. He said to Peter, “What is that to you? You must follow me.” The Lord directed Peter’s focus back onto what He had called him to, not what His plans and callings were for John.
We can make that same mistake ourselves, by comparing ourselves and our ministries to someone else’s. Our part is to look to the Lord for His ministry calling and spiritual giftedness in our lives — “the ministry which thou [singularly and uniquely] hast received in the Lord.” One of the worst things one can do is try to copy someone else’s ministry. We can end up like the young man David putting on Saul’s armor, which didn’t fit him at all. He tossed it away and went without armor, but in the Lord’s strength and with his trusted weapon the sling. And he easily overcame the giant Goliath. Don’t you be a David trying to fight the battle with Saul’s ill-fitting armor.
Jesus’ wisdom concerning Peter and John is apparent to us in retrospect. Jesus had told Peter to “feed my lambs … feed my sheep” (John 21:15-17). His was a shepherdly call, and that pastoral heart came through clearly in Peter’s First Epistle. John’s call from Jesus was different. He became one of Christianity’s greatest theologians, as is especially evident in the magnificent theology in his Gospel of John. Along with his incomparable Book of Revelation and his three epistles, John became one of the Bible’s most prolific writers, having written fully 20% of the entire New Testament by word count. What’s the takeaway? Simply this: don’t copy or covet someone else’s ministry. That will lead to frustration and lack of fruit. Pray, seek counsel, and press in to discern the Lord’s unique call upon you. Then pursue that with all that is in you, to bear fruit and thereby to glorify God.
Now please read the
These 3 lists show us some, but certainly not all, of the spiritual gifts and ministries the Lord imparts to His people by the Holy Spirit. There are many more that are not mentioned in these lists—for example, musical worship, prayer teams, church audio-visual ministry, church nursery or children’s ministry, and many more—all of them significant to the Lord and valued by Him.
The Bible says “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it” (1 Corinthians 12:27). That speaks to you personally, to “each one of you.” The apostle Paul writes further that “the whole body [of Christ] … grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work” (Ephesians 4:16). The apostle Peter wrote (1 Peter 4:10, Amplified), “Just as each one of you has received a special gift [a spiritual talent, an ability graciously given by God], employ it in serving one another.”
Notice that these great apostolic leaders emphasized the unique giftedness of the individual believer. Paul writes that “each one … each part … each of us” is uniquely and supernaturally gifted by the Lord with spiritual abilities to minister. Peter confirms that “each one” has received from God the capability to minister. And as we see in the Scripture portions above, the varied spiritual gifts of God are given uniquely and differently to each believer: “to one, to another, to another … some to be [this] ... some to be [that] … having different gifts according to the grace given to each of us.” This is classic “body ministry” — each part of the body of Christ using his or her spiritual enablements from God to do the unique ministry God has called each one to do.
This is a delightful Scripture. Using human body parts as symbols of spiritual truths, Paul shows how each part is necessary to the healthy functioning of the whole. You may be, spiritually speaking, an eye, an ear, a mouth, a foot, etc., in your local church. All the “parts” are needed, all are important, to the proper functioning of the body. As Paul wrote in verse 22, “those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.” The Lord Jesus Christ says to you that you, and your part in His body the Church, are indispensable.
So seek the Lord for His exact direction to you for doing the work to which He has called you. If you need advice, seek mature, godly counsel in your church to help you in this. And then embrace the attitude Paul was encouraging in his disciple Archippus. Determine to fulfill “the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord.” Don’t copy or covet someone else’s calling or ministry. Don’t be a Peter saying to the Lord, “What about that fellow John?” Trust that the “Johns” will devote themselves to their God-given callings, and you of course can encourage them in that. Meanwhile, you give your full energy to your calling. You’ll experience joy, fulfillment, and spiritual fruit borne for our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. And the Lord’s Church will flourish and grow “as
Check out our related sermon on "Team Ministry/Body Ministry"
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