6 May 2004

"As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God"- 1 Peter 4:10

Among the many gifts that Christ has vested in His church, we find the gift of ministering to others in every list. Simply put, ministry means serving: doing something for someone else expecting nothing in return. According to Peter, every member has received this particular gift who is a real Christian. Thus, every believer has a least one gift that has been specially given to them by the Lord to serve in God's house and beyond. Many times, the pastor or preacher is spoken of as a minister and so he is. He ministers the word to other believers; comforts and visits the afflicted; and encourages those who have been cast down. Yet, this gift goes far beyond the pulpit as it is woven into the spirit of every believer. This gift is very special because it emboldens the Christian to look away from self towards others. It is the gift that most reflects Christ. He went about doing good. He gave His life for others. The ministration of His death upon the cross for sinners is the greatest act of ministry the world has ever witnessed. Though every believer has this gift, it is rare in that it is often undiscovered, misused or unused. It is undiscovered by many who have been led to believe that all they are to do in the Church is listen to messages. Surely, Jesus did not die to make us listener of the word only. It is misused by some to draw attention to themselves rather than giving the glory to Christ. It is unused by many because of a general indifference towards the needs of others. One look at our suffering Savior sets this gift in motion as we remember what He did for us. This time of the year can be the most depressing for those who have no family or who have suffered a tragedy. What an excellent opportunity to minister! Ministering is not complicated. A cup of coffee and an "I love you" in the morning is ministering to a loved one in the most simplistic way. A phone call, a card or a special visit from a brother or sister in Christ would also be a reflection of our Lord. In Matthew 25, where Jesus described those going to heaven, this gift was the one that distinguished the redeemed host from the lost. Jesus said, "For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in. Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me." All of these are acts of ministering. Though doctrine is important, Jesus did not describe the heaven bound host as those who had their doctrine down perfectly. The Pharisees had their doctrine down pat, yet they would not lift so much as their little finger to help another unless it brought them some praise of men. As one man said, "You can be straight as a gun barrel doctrinally and just as empty spiritually." The greatest blessing of ministering is the One to whom we really are minister to: "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." If we can imagine handing that cup of coffee to Jesus or making that phone call to our redeemer…… ... we have! If we want to do something personally to and for our Lord Jesus Christ, this gift is the key.-Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor, Harmony Primitive Baptist Church, Donaldson, AR.