As Christians, we often spend our time teaching young people to give to the Lord. That’s a good thing to do. The Lord loves a cheerful giver. We may spend our time teaching our children to give away things as part of a church outreach. We may teach them to mow lawns for the elderly.
Have you ever considered what makes giving a ministry?
The government gives away food stamps. Is that ministry? I think we’d all agree that is not ministry. When a church gives away food, is that ministry? No. It may be a part of a ministry effort, but the source does not define what is ministry.
Ministry is best defined by what is being given. Perhaps a better way to word that would be to say that ministry is best defined by who is being offered.
Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.
2 Corinthians 3:6
We are to be “ministers of the new testament.” Hang on to that thought.
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4
Add to “ministers of the new testament” “the glorious gospel of Christ.”
For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.
2 Corinthians 4:5
Now add preach Christ Jesus the Lord.
Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith: To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ for ever. Amen.
We are to be ministers of the New Testament, which is about Jesus. The gospel is the gospel of Christ. Sharing and preaching Christ Jesus the Lord is what defines ministry, not just helping the poor or the elderly.
We need to be careful that we do not get so distracted helping the poor and the elderly with their life in this world that we forget to tend to their eternal needs. Only God can do the drawing, but we can be the instruments that God chooses to use. When doing outreach, be sure that ministry – sharing Jesus Christ – is at the top of the to-do list.
Today’s challenge is to look at what you have been calling ministry. If you have been giving to the poor, that’s a good thing. I’m not encouraging you to stop at all. I do want to encourage you to look at whether or not you have been sharing Jesus. Remember, the government gives away things too. We don’t call that ministry. We call it handouts. If you are not sharing Jesus, it’s not ministry. If you are not sharing Jesus, you are not sharing the gospel message.