Serving others in ministry can be a burden and a blessing. A minister of Christ deals with physical, mental, and spiritual antagonists amongst nonbelievers and the church alike. Paul understood this deeply, and in previous chapters encouraged the Corinthian church to persevere in Christian ministry. Earlier in Chapter 5, Paul preached that, despite what’s against us, our response should be to please God who rewards us for our faithfulness and our works on earth. But even after saying this, Paul found himself defending his own motives and personal ministry to the Corinthians, in response to false accusations.
- Do you serve in ministry? If so, who or what is your motivation?
READ THE WORD: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:11-21 (ESV)
11 Therefore, knowing the fear of the Lord, we persuade others. But what we are is known to God, and I hope it is known also to your conscience. 12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you cause to boast about us, so that you may be able to answer those who boast about outward appearance and not about what is in the heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; 15 and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.
16 From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
(Today’s questions focus on verses 11-15.)
- What did Paul defend to the Corinthians in this passage (vss. 11-15)?
- From the context of verse 11, what was Paul’s ministry? What was one motivator for his ministry? How do you understand this motivator?
- What did Paul say was his second motivator for ministry that controlled his life (vs. 14)? How did this motivation parallel the sacrifice of Christ mentioned in this same verse?
- In your own words, write out or explain to someone Paul’s message of the gospel in verses 14b-15.
- What is your ministry or calling? What are your motivations for ministry, and how are they similar to or different from Paul’s?
RESPOND TO GOD
Serving in ministry is not for personal gain, accolades, or glory—unless it’s for the glory of God alone. God will ultimately judge believers in Christ for the works we do in his name. Our heavenly rewards depend on this, but so does the pleasure of the God who loved us enough to sacrifice his only son for his enemies—a Savior who was innocent and crucified as a shameful sinner in our place. Let your fear of and love for the Lord be the motivation for your ministry today.
- Ask for God’s help to serve in ministry with a holy reverence for him, and with a sound mind and pure heart.
- Thank Jesus for sacrificing his life for you, so that you can sacrifice your life daily for him.