For Works of Service

I have read and studied the scriptures many times.  But sometimes I will see things that I never saw before and a light will go on like “oh, that is what the writer is saying!”  Perhaps that has happened to you too.  That is one reason we need to continue to study the word.  One passage for me is Ephesians 4:11-12 “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.”  We understand that He gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  The phrase I missed was the first reason He gave these individuals:  “for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry.”

Today, the word ministry implies the position of a minister to a church – a person who may be the leading person in the congregation, who does most of the teaching or preaching, and is often paid for the work that he does.  That is not the meaning here.  “Originally the minister was the individual who performed the most menial and laborious work in the congregation – physical labor for the congregation – who waited upon the sick, fed the hungry, and labored for the relief of sorrow, distress, and the physical ills of the offcast of earth.*” All Christians are saints, not just certain outstanding individuals that the church recognizes as having an exceptional degree of holiness.  The implication is that apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers taught and trained the Christians (saints) to be servants.  Today we should do the same thing; perhaps we are not doing that as much as we should.

Jesus was a servant.  Philippians 2:5-9 “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.”  Jesus taught his disciples to be servants.  In John 13 we have the account of Jesus taking up a towel and water basin and washing his disciples’ feet.  John 13:12-15 “So when He had washed their feet, taken His garments, and sat down again, He said to them, ‘Do you know what I have done to you?  You call Me Teacher and Lord, and you say well, for so I am.  If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.’”  I am not convinced that we have to wash each other’s feet today since that is not a task that is common today.  However I am convinced that we need to be willing to serve each other, even in menial tasks.  Since Jesus made a special effort to teach his disciples to serve, we need to also teach the importance of service.  This service is especially to fellow Christians, but it can also be to people in the world.  Galatians 6:10 “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”  Are you a servant?

*Commentary on Ephesians by David Lipscomb and J. W. Shepherd.

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