2 Cor 6:3-10
3 We give no offense in anything, that our ministry may not be blamed. 4 But in all things we commend ourselves as ministers of God: in much patience, in tribulations, in needs, in distresses, 5 in stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labors, in sleeplessness, in fastings; 6 by purity, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Spirit, by sincere love, 7 by the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armor of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8 by honor and dishonor, by evil report and good report; as deceivers, and yet true; 9 as unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and behold we live; as chastened, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.
This is the ministry Paul speaks of - establishing the cause of Christ - in reconciliation,
righteousness and Spiritual law (verses legalism), through preaching and benevolent affection
toward human need, all done by grace given the minister. We are ambassadors for Christ.
Therefore, this ministry must not be tarnished by offensive conduct.
It is not the right of a minister to live to demand his own personal rights. What’s fair to
him as a man is not his guiding light. All he says and does must be for the furtherance of his God
given ministry that it be not compromised. His life is not his own. He works for, serves and
represents another. The very integrity of who God is rests in the minister’s conduct in the eye’s
of the world. “Giving no offense that the ministry be not blamed.” These things Paul writes, not
just to ministers, but to the Corinthian Church.
So the minister has a calling whose boundaries must be purely from the heart in love
without allowing the ministry to seem like a “ball and chain” - the enemy of his own family or
even Church, ie ministry only for ‘the ministries’ sake.
But so should the minister exalt within his own heart the high calling that he is given. If
too much of self comes out, then there is also too much opportunity for offense to be put upon
the ministry and the Name of Christ. People put a very high expectation upon a minister - almost
an impossible standard of unsaid demands. Any individual may only have one or two of these
expectations. However, when the body as a whole is brought into the equation, all of the
individual expectations amount to a very lofty job description. It is one which is impossible to
fulfill. (No application to our present body implied :^)
Yet the minister must handle all of these expectations, realistic or not, in such a way that
no offense comes from his response to, at times, the ridiculous. His human reaction to the
ridiculous or impossible is not the consideration. His own personal sensibilities are not the
ground of his justification. It is the ministry itself that must be maintained with the utmost
integrity, often times at the expense of the minister’s personal feelings and needs. It is the
ministry that must be defended, not the man. It is God’s reputation that is at stake, not the
preacher’s. God will take care of him. Once he takes it upon himself to take care of himself, the
ministry will suffer.
Without the deep seated knowledge and identity as ministers of God, this will be
impossible. Without having as his primary influence and motivation to be God’s representative
and reflection in the image of God, Paul would have no impetus to live such a life. His inner
drive and desire must have been pure in the intention to glorify the Christ who died for him, and
nothing else. 2 Cor 6:4-10 explains Paul’s life.
“We commend ourselves as ministers of Christ.” That is what we want to be known for.
We’re not Viking’s fans, Finlanders, hunters, educated and articulate, funny, or ‘good ole boys.’
In tribulation, distress, beatings, imprisonments, or sleeplessness we will show ourselves how
ministers act in all of these things. We will be what we are no matter the circumstance. In tough
times when it may not look like we are succeeding, we will show what a minister looks like in
defeat and hardship. By purity, knowledge, patience, or love, in power, honor or dishonor, in evil
report as well as in good, as branded as deceivers, unknown, or dying and chastened, through
sorrow yet rejoicing, as poor and having nothing, yet making many rich - in all of these things we
are determined to be known as God’s ministers, His servants in ambassadorship. None of these
other things defines us, nor will we let it be so.
Let it be said again, that this is the motivation for Paul not to allow any of these
challenges to bring about any degrading of the nobility of the ministry. Trials only defeat us
when we are unwilling to forsake personal agendas. Any person can stand tall with pride when
the resume of his life excludes poverty, beatings, evil reports, prison time, anonymity, dishonor,
distress and laboring. But true nobility and integrity of life is measured by enduring life’s
deepest valleys as our very calling, and then doing so with dignity and rejoicing. Such are the
ones in the greatest position to show the common man that God is greater than his fiery trials.
Far from the stamp of failure and defeat is the lonely minister who has been run out of
town, been slandered and gossiped about until he is left standing with only a few, who, with
bowed head and knee bent from brokenness - exalts the reigning King of Kings in his heart. His
countenance of courage declares like nothing else can that nothing shall separate us from the love
of God. He has been called to a canvas of despair and distress knowing that only upon such a
backdrop can he be the brush by which the Holy Spirit paints the face of Christ. Though he may
be seen as but a worn out wand who never gets the acclaim when the painting is praised, the
Artist of heaven has been glorified. This minister will ever remain in the hand of God. May we
all be such as we look upon Him!