Ministry is an often misunderstood word. To some it is synonymous with “preaching”, and is little else. While sharing the good news of the Gospel with those in need of it is part of a life of ministry, it goes beyond that. The Biblical meaning of “ministry” is “service”.
In most cases the New Testament word translated as “ministry” is “diakonia” (Strongs 1248), which refers to “domestic duties” not religious teaching or ceremony which is the word “leitourgia” (3009). The exact meaning depends on the context of its use but in general it means the rendering of aid to another, the way a waiter/waitress serves a customer, an aid serves an officer or administrator, or a soldier serves his or her country.
We, as Christians, are to “serve” one another as individuals through fellowship and the meeting of needs, serve our church through participation, and serve the community around us (and beyond) by the rendering of aid and comfort, thereby displaying the compassion of Jesus Christ.
Some modern churches think that ministry means being loud and brash in condemning the sins of the worldly. In most cases this does not display love, but hatefulness and is taken as such by the world. This does nothing to further the cause of Christ, in fact it stirs up hardheartedness toward all Christianity.
1 Thessalonians 4:10-12 says:
“But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more; 11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.” (NKJV)
Please take note of:
- lead a quiet life
- mind your own business
- work with your own hands
- behave properly toward outsiders
Lead a Quiet Life
In a world that is filled with self-serving individuals, the genuine love of Christians should attract others to the faith. One of the ways we do this is by not being a pot stirrer. We may have opinions. We may work to bring about positive change in our community, but not through rabble-rousing, nor rioting, nor inciting civil unrest, nor verbal abuse of our adversaries. We work through love not hate.
- 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12 (work in quietness and eat your own bread)
- Romans 12:18 18 ( as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone)
- Hebrews 12:14 (pursue peace with all people)
Mind Your Own Business
For the most part, we are to focus on our own lives and our own troubles. This is not to say that we should not help others, as long as “helping” does not turn to meddling for meddling’s sake.
- 1 Peter 4:15 (persecution for being a busybody does not glorify God)
There is a dispensation when it comes to Christians advising or correcting Christians. We are admonished to monitor and correct one another when we begin to stray, but to do so in love, not mean-spiritedness. As to informing the world that they are sinners: our rule-book, the Bible, does not apply to them. We can and should inform them of their separation from God and what that means, but not by shaking our fists at them and yelling, “You sinners are all going to Hell”.
1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 describes the way Paul and his companions ministered to the non-believers and new converts in Thessalonica (and elsewhere).
7 But we were gentle among you, just as a nursing mother cherishes her own children. 8 So, affectionately longing for you, we were well pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God, but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us. (NKJV)
Work With Your Own Hands
In many passages Paul speaks out against “paid speaker” evangelism. When he and his companions entered a city, they worked for their necessities rather than expecting those they witnessed to to provide for them.
- Act 18:3 (Paul is by trade a tentmaker and applied that trade)
- Acts 20:34 (Pail labored with his own hands)
- 2 Thes 3:7-8 (did not eat for free, but worked)
- 2 Cor 12:13 (Paul was not burdensome)
- Acts 20:35 (Jesus says, “It it more blessed to give than to receive”)
Behave Properly Toward Outsiders
We must remember always that the world is looking at us with the idea of finding fault or a means of accusing us of being fake or hypocritical. We need to walk our talk.
- Romans 13:13 (Let us walk properly, no provision for fleshly lusts)
- Colossians 4:5 (Walk in wisdom toward non-believers)
- 1 Peter 2:12 (conduct yourselves honorably among the gentiles)
We are to be living a life that displays kindness, love, and compassion every day and in everything we do. Our ministry is to be apparent always not just on Sunday.