True Ministry is born out of a true love for Christ.
For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Colossians 1:29 NASB)
Paul said that for the purpose of proclaiming Christ and seeing each saint come to be complete in Christ, he labors and strives. And the energy and the power by which he labors is found in the very person he is laboring to proclaim.
So, Christ is both the ultimate point and power of all ministry. Anyone who labors in this way does so because they truly love Christ. So, to be in ministry, to truly serve Christ and to serve the brethren is to truly love Christ. To not be in ministry, to not be in service to others shows a life that does not truly love the Savior.
There is no side-line Christianity. Christianity is not a spectator sport. It is a life of action and service born out of a love for the Savior, Jesus Christ. This is why we can trust that truly regenerated, born-again Christian will want to be engaged and involved in serving and being active in the church in carrying out the Great Commission.
Paul makes it clear as we move from chapter 1 into chapter 2 that there in fact consequences to ministry. Not all consequences are bad. We commonly associate the word consequences with something negative but the word simply means – a result or effect of an action or condition. The action of ministry in service to the Lord will have consequences and certain results.
What are the consequences of a good ministry? What are the results you can expect to see when people truly love and serve Christ for the benefit of others?
1. Impact far beyond visible fruit.
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face. (Colossians 2:1 NASB)
Paul did what he did for both the known (Colossae, Laodicea) and the unknown (have not personally seen my face). We tend to only want to keep working if we can see instant, visible, results.
Paul’s love for the church was not predicated on the people in it but it was predicated on the Christ who died for it. – John MacArthur
If our love for Christ and for the church is the basis for our labor then we will impact this world for Christ far beyond the visible fruit. So much of our impact for Christ will be beyond visible fruit. In some if not most cases, our impact and the results for the Kingdom will largely not be seen on this side of eternity. It is true that sometimes God lets us see a harvest or fruit from our labor but even if we do not see visible fruit, we can trust God that He is bringing forth much fruit from our service unto Him.
What then is Apollos? And what is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, even as the Lord gave opportunity to each one. I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. Now he who plants and he who waters are one; but each will receive his own reward according to his own labor. (1 Corinthians 3:5-8 NASB)
Some plant, some water, some harvest. The planters may not be there to see the harvest but they will be rewarded for the part they labored.
2. Hearts will be encouraged (strengthened).
That their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself. (Colossians 2:2 NASB)
We labor and serve to encourage brethren’s hearts. Our hearts will need to be strengthened from time to time.
Are they servants of Christ? I speak as if insane - I more so; in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. (2 Corinthians 11:23-28 NASB)
So many Christians stay on the sidelines. Some do it out of fear, some do it out of ignorance, some do it out of sheer disobedience. As I have stated before there is no sideline Christianity. Paul certainly faced a high level of persecution and suffering and while what he faced may not be duplicated it does not mean that we won't face intense suffering and persecution. To try to avoid that will either keep you from doing true, effective ministry or even worse it may demonstrate a heart that has not been truly regenerated.
Everyone is at different places in their spiritual journey. We need strong hearts in believers to fulfill our ministry. A strong heart in a believer is one filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit but it is also a heart that will need to be encouraged and strengthened by the ministry of other believers. Paul stated that their hearts would be encouraged knowing how great a struggle Paul had on their behalf and knowing about the sufferings he was partaking in on their behalf. We all are encouraged when we know there are people out there laboring and working for our benefit.
One of the biggest results of a people on fire for God and serving in ministry is the overall heart of the church becomes strong because it is being led/filled/controlled by the Spirit of God. (Eph. 5:18)
You may say, “I want to see those results in my life. I want to impact people even those I may never meet. I want to be someone who encourages someone else’s heart.” How can I do that?
Start Small – Do Something – Then Build & Grow
Examples: Greet people at the door.
Volunteer to help with the next meal event whether setting up or cleaning up.
Get involved in knowing who is sick or in the hospital and call them or take them food and visit them.
Spend a Sunday a month in the nursery or in children’s church.
Break up your routine and talk to those you don’t normally talk to.
Visit a different Sunday School class.
Think of someone that may need encouragement and invite them out to lunch.
If you have the means give a love gift to someone who needs it.
Sing in the choir.
Witness to your neighbor. Invite them to church.
Take on someone to mentor or seek out someone to mentor you.
Take a lead on a new ministry like setting up a church workday or a prayer group.
Show up to things that you don’t normally attend.
Commit to visiting retirement centers twice a month.
Call 2 church members a week to encourage them or pray for them.
Start a new outward focused ministry to impact the community.
Be a founding member of a new men’s or women’s ministry that will truly impact people’s lives.
Create Community in your service.
Be Consistent. Be Present. Be Involved.
Every great ministry no matter how big or small starts somewhere. Don't set out to be the apostle Paul. Set out to be YOU! Let Christ lead you. Be involved in what Christ wants you to be involved in. Manage your expectations in light of what Christ is actively working to accomplish in and through you. Don't over-extend yourself. Start small. Do Something. Then you can Build and Grow. If the service you provide impacts just one person's life for the Kingdom then every hour spent was eternally worth it and the fruit your ministry produces may impact people far beyond the visible fruit.