The ministry is your process of sharing God with people at the point of their need. That grows out of the concept that we were just talking about your good works glorify God.
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Well, that little familiar greeting establishes the fact that this is indeed your good friend, Bob Cook, and I’m back on the radio to talk with you about God’s Word. Boy, I’m so grateful for this privilege. The radio stations that put us on and your prayers and your backing means so much. Thank you and thank God for you.
Well, we’re looking at John 19 talking about secret believers, Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, both great people. But they’d never come yet to a public avowal of faith in the Lord Jesus, and so the last time we got together I was talking with you about what do you do when you’re living in a riskier, or oppressive, or negative, or even dangerous situation? The first thing I said was make the commitment down deep in your heart inside that you belong to the Lord Jesus Christ absolutely no matter what, that’s the first thing. Second, we talked about letting your light shine and the shining happens to be good works. Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify, as a result, glorify your Father, which is in Heaven.
We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. You’re not saved by works. “Not of works lest any man should boast,” says Paul, after the kindness and love of God our Savior, not by works of righteousness which we have done. Paul says in Titus 3:5, “But according to His mercy He saved us.” So it’s clear that you’re not saved by this, but if you have made the commitment to the Lord Jesus then the result of that commitment may very well be that you look for ways to help people, alright?
What else? Well, make sure that your life is one that doesn’t give opportunity to criticize your Lord. When David fell into sin, the prophet said, “By this thing you have given opportunity to the enemies of God to blaspheme.” How the unsaved world around loves to mock, and to chortle, and to rejoice over somebody’s failure. We’ve been through that recently in the last couple of years. What a painful thing it is. Oh, now, all of us just wince with pain as we realize that one person’s failure can affect millions of people so far as their testimony is concerned.
So if you really want your light to shine and if you really want to be effective for your Lord in a culture that has no real use for Jesus, then Paul says in 2 Corinthians 6:3, “Giving no offense in anything that the ministry.” That is your outreach, in other words, to people. See, every Christian has a ministry. The job of the pastor, says Paul in Ephesians 4, is to equip the saints for the work of the ministry. Every Christian, you that is and to me, every Christian has a ministry. So with that background, you and I can look at 2 Corinthians 6:3 and says, “Giving no offense in anything that the ministry be not blamed but in all things commending ourselves as the ministers of God in patience, in afflictions, in its necessities, and in stripes, imprisonments, and so on, and so on. Giving no offense, that’s the negative side and then in all things commending ourselves as the ministers of God.
Let me comment on that just for a moment. It says no offense in anything, you have a double negative there. Substantially, I know anything isn’t a negative. You school teachers, you’re gonna correct me. But you’ve got a statement there that takes in the whole waterfront, doesn’t it? No offense in anything.
Now how in the world can you live up to a standard like that? We all make mistakes. I venture to say that in the last 24 hours each of us has had to say to someone, “I’m sorry, excuse me,” or “Pardon me.” We all make mistakes, small ones and sometimes major ones. Well, this is the standard. This is the standard and the more you trust God, the more you’ll live up to it. The more you yield to the indwelling Holy Spirit Who reveals Christ through the believer, the more you’ll live up to the standard giving no offense in anything that the ministry… See, what’s at stake is not how you feel. Get over feeling sorry for yourself. “Oh, I feel so bad, I was snubbed,” or “I was criticized,” or “I was opposed,” or “I was put upon,” or “Somebody did a real put down on me.” See, your feelings were hurt, let’s get over that. Why? Because what is important is God’s feelings. It’s not how I feel, it’s what God is doing that counts.
The ministry is your process of sharing God with people at the point of their need. That grows out of the concept that we were just talking about your good works glorify God. So a Christian’s ministry is the process of sharing God with people at the point of their need. And if my conduct is such that it belies my professed interest in these folk, they’re going to lose confidence not just in me but in God. See, that’s the thing that we’re working on. How do people feel about God after they’ve met you? Boy, that’s a devastating question when you start thinking about it in personal terms! Well, we have to face, this is the way God wants us to do it. “Giving no offense in anything that the ministry be not blamed.” Now, what is the positive side of it? “But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God!” How do you do that? Said he, “In much patience.”
One of the first proofs that you are real with God is that you’re patient. Isn’t that interesting? I love that word ‘patience,’ a Greek word hupomone, which means stay down, don’t pop up, or blow up, or give up. In much patience. Then you can use that word patience as a hitching post, may I say, to all the rest of the following words: Patience in afflictions, that’s troubles, that come to all of us. Necessities, that’s too much month at the end of the money. Distresses, that’s how your body reacts to stress. Your duodenum feels as though it was tied in a bow knot. Stripes, imprisonments, and tumults, that’s the obvious public price that some have to pay for being a Christian. Labors, that’s the hard work that you have to do. Watchings and fastings, that’s the persistent waiting on God that makes you spiritually effective. Pureness, and knowledge, and long suffering, and kindness, and the Holy Spirit, and love unfeigned, and the Word of Truth.
These are the positive sides to the statement, “Giving no offense.” Patient, patient in trouble, patient when you’re broke, patient when your body is tied in a knot, so to speak, because of the stress under which you live. Don’t be misled to think that because you’re a Christian, everything is going to come up roses. During the years I served as president of the college, I often dealt with young people who came to the college with the mistaken notion that if you’re a good Christian you’ll never have the blues, you’ll never get discouraged, everything will come out all right, and if you should get into some kind of discouraging situation, it proves that you’re not a good Christian. Oh, no.
No, everybody has troubles. You remember the little boy that wanted to run across 5th Avenue? And his mother held him tightly by the hand and said, “Wait! Don’t you wanna grow up and have troubles?” [chuckle] Everybody has them. Everybody has needs, this word necessities. I used the humorous phrase, “Too much month at the end of the money,” but we all know how that is.
And then distresses, I’ve talked about that. And all the rest of the things that come in the business of living. The way you and I treat them is evidence as to whether the Lord Jesus Christ is running our lives. A couple of young men picked me up many years ago to take me to a meeting in Altoona, and they were driving an ancient Buick and Altoona, of course, is a hilly town and you go uptown and downtown literally. And it was wintertime and there was ice and snow on the street so we were proceeding with a certain amount of caution but getting there. And while we were riding, the two of them were in the front seat, I was in the backseat of the car and I asked them about their own Christian life. And the one boy looked over at the driver and said, “His brother led me to the Lord.” “Oh,” I said, “what happened?” “Well,” he said, “I was working in the railroad shops. I was far from God,” he said, “Every night after quitting time, I would go and get my guitar and head for the nearest bar and sing for free drinks until the bar closed or I passed out.”
And he said, “Everything was going wrong, my wife and little baby had left me and gone back to her mother. And my job went poorly because I was hung over most of the time.” But he said, “His brother,” pointing again to the driver, “was working right next to me in the railroad shop. Things seemed to go well for him and he seemed so patient and kind. And when we had lunchtime, he’d prop up a little New Testament against his lunch pail and he’d read it. And sometimes I’d hear him singing or whistling a snatch of a chorus. So finally one day, when the quitting whistle blew, I turned to him and I said, “Jim, whatever it is you have, I gotta have, you gotta help me. I gotta have what you have.” And he led me to Jesus.” And now, that’s what we’re talking about, you see?
You have a ministry, beloved. And it’s not showing off, and it’s not waiting until you have enough courage to blurt out, “I’m a Christian.” It’s letting the Lord Jesus Christ start to live through you so that other people know He’s real. The index of reality and Christianity may very well be the point at which you might have blown your top but you don’t. You might have trimmed the truth, but instead, you tell the truth. You might have been greedy, but instead you’re generous. You might have been proud but instead you’re humble. People notice that, and they know that it doesn’t come from you. They know there’s something else involved. And that something is a Somebody, the Lord Jesus Christ. You follow that?
So what have we said so far? Time is running out and I may not finish this yet. Long-winded preacher, huh? [chuckle] Well, make the commitment. Number two, let the light shine, good works. Number three, make sure that you’re not giving offense to anybody by what you do, you’re not stumbling them. If I do this, how will it affect my friend’s relationship with God? See, that’s what counts. And then the matter of divine love. We’ll talk about that the next time we get together.
Dear Father today, may we be out and out for Jesus and may our light shine to the glory of God. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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