Beholding ... Changing ... Transformed (continued)
"This Ministry" Is for All: A Matter of Character
Notice the context of these words in 2 Corinthians. The apostle here is mainly concerned with the effect of the life of believers in this world, on this earth. He calls the effect "this ministry." Perhaps that word needs transfiguring for us. Note that when he says, "we all, beholding,..." he includes all believers in that word "ministry." It is all believers he is speaking to about ministry. And herein lies a tremendous difference. Our technical, professional conceptions of "the ministry" are mostly external: that is, you give a title; you, more or less, put on a uniform; an so you are "the minister." It is all put on the outside, therefore it can be artificial. But what the apostle is saying here is that the ministry is not something that you put on, but something that comes out from within. We all - and that includes you, my brothers and my sisters - are called to the ministry. Any special application of that word would only be permissible, in the New Testament, in measure, and not in kind. That is, some have a special ministry, and they are God's ministers in that particular way, with that particular measure. It is not that they are a class called "ministers," and other people are "laity" - such ideas are altogether foreign to the New Testament. 'We all, beholding," have the ministry, resultant from the beholding. And so we are called to the ministry; it is just the offset of our being here.
Now, what is the apostle saying about this? He is clearly saying that the personality and the ministry must be one. How searching that is, but how very meaningful. The ministry must not be some "thing" - preaching, teaching, and all those things that are called "ministry" - something just done, while the man himself is different, and the person is apart. What Paul is saying so emphatically here is this, that when you meet a truly Spirit-indwelt and Spirit-governed man or woman, what they say comes out of their life - is a very part of their life. Their teaching can be seen to have been wrought into their history and their experience. When that man or that woman seeks to teach, to "minister", to say something to someone else of a Christian character, it is known that that has come out of some secret history with God, something that the Holy Spirit has done in them. Their ministry and their character are identical.
That is very important indeed; it is indispensable. That is why the Holy Spirit is so meticulous about character, so careful about the personality, about the inner man, inner life. That is why, if we are under His government - and this does not apply to everyone who ministers, or is in Christian service - but if we are really under the government of the Holy Spirit, if we, in word, exceed what is true in our own lives, the Holy Spirit will soon take us up on that, and, in effect, will see to it that we are brought abreast of our teaching - that the thing is kept in correspondence and balance. Have you ever said something, and the Holy Spirit has checked you up, and said: Is that true of you? is that something you have said? It is very important, and, if we were honest, we would not really have it otherwise. We want it to be like that.
(continued with #27 - "The Impact of the Glory")