"Be sure to carry out the ministry the Lord gave you."
- Colossians 4:17 NLT
The Bible tells us that every believer in Christ has a ministry to fulfill. The apostle Paul wrote: "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it." (Colossians 4:17 NASB) And again, he stated: "Complete the ministry God has given you." (2 Timothy 4:5 NLT) What are some of the obstacles to fulfilling our ministry that we might face as we live our lives for Christ?
Sloppy living is one. Instead of living the selfless, holy lives that the Lord has called us to, we become self-absorbed and self-indulgent. We choose relationships outside of God's will for us. We focus on worldly concerns, instead of on the Lord's plans and purposes for our lives. We long for the approval of others, instead of the praise from God. Paul wrote: "Obviously, I'm not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ's servant." (Galatians 1:10 NLT) Simply put, people pleasers will not complete their ministry. Neither will those who settle for a sloppy lifestyle. Scripture says: "Keep a close watch on all you do and think. Stay true to what is right and God will bless you and use you to help others." (1 Timothy 4:16 TLB) Christlike character enables us to fulfill the call of God on our lives, and to impact others for Christ.
Another way we can leave our ministry unfinished is to wear ourselves out and quit. We neglect our health. We have poor eating habits. We don't set reasonable boundaries for our work. And worst of all, we try to perform our work in our own strength, instead of depending on God's. The Bible says: "If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified." (1 Peter 4:11 NASB) The Lord wants us to depend upon His Spirit for divine enablement, so that the work we do in His name will be fruitful, without wearing us out. When we are relying on God's power in our work, there should be a "flow" to it; it should not be a major struggle. As a result, we will be less likely to quit and walk off the job. And as we prove ourselves faithful, the Lord increases our strength, and entrusts us with more opportunities and responsibilities. As Paul wrote: "I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has given me strength to do His work. He considered me trustworthy and appointed me to serve Him." (1 Timothy 1:12 NLT)
Becoming angry, resentful, or indignant can also prevent us from fulfilling our ministry. We become results-oriented, and resent it when our expectations aren't fulfilled. We chafe at a lack of recognition, reward, or pay. We become offended when others don't do what they're "supposed" to in our sight. We desperately want to feel significant, but we keep going about it the wrong way. Scripture says: "Humble yourselves [feeling very insignificant] in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you [He will lift you up and make your lives significant]." (James 4:10 AMP) As we surrender ourselves and our desires to God, He will fill our lives with purpose and meaning, and He will use us, bless us, and promote us in extraordinary ways. Paul had the right idea when he said: "My life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus." (Acts 20:24 NLT)
Adopting the attitude that others will do the work instead can hinder us from completing our ministry. We may minimize our value or worth. We may think that others are able to do a better job than we can. We fail to understand that there are things that only we can accomplish for the Kingdom, and that no one else can fulfill our purpose on this earth. The Bible says: "For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." (Ephesians 2:10 NIV) You were created by God with specific plans and purposes in mind. You have a divine destiny, and only you can fulfill it. There may be people on this earth that only you can reach. You have a job to do! Do it with enthusiasm, thankfulness, and joy--knowing that you will make an eternal difference in this world.
Prayer: Lord, today I surrender to You anew all that I am, and all that I have. Reveal to me the nature of the ministry that You've called me to perform at this time in my life. Teach me how to rely on Your Spirit to equip and empower me to serve You. Thank You that as I follow Your lead, I will live a life of victory, blessing, and purpose!
- J. M. Farro