Bible Reading: 2 Corinthians 6:4-10
Paul lists some remarkable characteristics of a true minister of Jesus Christ.
They are Consistent [verse 2 & 8]. They do not cause others to stumble by double standards. They remain consistent whether people support them or oppose them.
They are Patient [verse 4]. They face many difficult issues, and in this passage Paul lists six of the difficulties that they have to face [verse 5]
They are Faithful [verse 7]. They faithfully preach God’s Word, trusting God to work through them. Elsewhere Paul wrote to Timothy, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine” [2 Timothy 4:2]. The power is in God’s Word, not in our interpretations or ideas about God’s word.
They know how to Wage Warfare [verse 7]. Paul speaks of using the weapons of righteousness in the right hand for attack and the left hand for defence. Obviously he is writing about the Sword of the Spirit, that is the Word of God in the right hand. This is the only part of the Christians armour and weapons listed in Ephesians 6:12-18 that is for attack. The Shield of Faith in the left hand is for defence and quenches all the fiery darts of the evil one.
Whatever they face they Never Give Up [verses 8-10a]. People may honour or despise us, slander or praise us, ignore us and beat us, but Paul says, “Our hearts ache, but we always have joy” [verse 10a]. We may sometimes be tempted to give up but we choose not to give up, as we fix our eyes on Jesus!
They desire to Bless Others [verse 10]. “We are poor, but give spiritual riches to others.” Our heart is to bless others. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” [Acts 20:35].
We could so easily take the next few days to consider each of these characteristics one by one. None of us is perfect but we should be growing in these remarkable characteristics that were so evident in Paul’s life. The key is that we are filled with the Holy Spirit and increasingly walking with Him. Paul writes, “We prove ourselves by our purity, our understanding, our patience, our kindness, by the Holy Spirit within us, and by our sincere love” [verse 6].
Which of these characteristics are your strengths, and which are the areas in which you are weaker and need to work on?
How does God teach us patience through the difficult experiences and trials that we go through?
How would you answer people who say that these characteristics of a true minister of Jesus Christ only apply to full-time church workers and pastors?
Will you ask God to fill you afresh with the Holy Spirit today?